Uttoxeter, Staffordshire-based JCB has won a £14m order from the French military for a fleet of its backhoe loaders.
The deal – the biggest the company has ever won from the French armed forces – was secured after a lengthy tendering and evaluation period during which JCB fought off competition from other global manufacturers.
The first of the specially armoured and camouflaged machines, made at the company’s headquarters in Rocester, have started to be delivered and are expected to be deployed in conflict zones around the world by engineer regiments.
The 40kph 4CX backhoe – on which the French military machine is based – was taken from the commercial range of JCB construction equipment and adapted to the technical specifications needed by the French army.
In order to protect the operator when the machine is working in hostile areas, the cab has been fitted out with glass and steel ballistic protection. JCB engineers also adapted the loaders to make them easy to transport by air.