Engineering specialist announces £46m MoD contract award

WFEL, the Stockport-based supplier of rapidly deployable military bridges, has received a £46m contract from the UK’s Ministry of Defence for the supply of its MGB Medium Girder Bridges (MGB).

This will not only provide continuing employment for 50 direct WFEL production-related personnel but is likely to create an additional 15 to 20 skilled and production support jobs.

UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, said: “This £46m contract of new military bridges not only secures jobs within Stockport, but also supports a significant number of jobs in the wider UK supply chain.

“These bridges provide our Armed Forces with vital capabilities in both military and disaster relief operations.”

It’s also estimated that it will secure a further 100 jobs in the supply chain in the North of England and Scotland.

The contact award follows a review of the MoD’s modular gap crossing capabilities, which aimed to draw together existing in-service capabilities into a single coherent capability.

The 17 sets of new MGB bridging sets can be configured in several different ways to provide flexibility to the commander on the ground.

Configurations include concurrent deployment of both a 31-metre double-storey and a five-bay single-storey version.

The bridging systems will be deployed by the Royal Engineers and are available for use in both military operations and emergency disaster relief scenarios.

With more than 500 systems already supplied to militaries around the world, the MGB is a modular military bridging system, providing interoperability with any other MGB of any age and is already adopted by many NATO members.

MGBs were deployed jointly by US Marines and US Navy Seabees in Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture 2018, in one of the largest NATO exercises of recent times.

Maj Tom Exelby, of the Royal Engineers, said: “The MGB will provide light-weight medium gap capability to very high readiness forces and will form a significant element of the STRIKE Brigade’s manoeuvre support capability.

“MGB was chosen for its versatility and deployability to meet the challenges of the future integrated operating concept.”

The MGB contract will be fulfilled by December 2025, with the first two bridging sets delivered to the UK MoD by December 2021.

In 2018, the Australian Defence Force also took delivery of several new MGBs, under its Land 155 programme, replacing those previously in service for more than 30 years.

The ADF chose double-storey, link-reinforced MGB variants, spanning up to 49 meters, supplemented by additional portable pier and span equipment, allowing bridges of up to 76 meters to be constructed.

MGB walkways were also supplied, ensuring the bridges could be used in any civil emergency or disaster relief situation.