UK company Mabey Bridge is offering its Logistic Support Bridge to the South African National Defence Force in light of the fact that the military is running out of bridges.
Darren Keep, Regional Sales Manager at Mabey Bridge, said that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is coming to the end of its Bailey bridge stock and will need more bridges. The company is currently talking to the military regarding bridge supply and is also raising awareness of its products amongst the regional military community.
Martin Andrews, Military Sales Manager at Mabey Bridge, said that his company has made a presentation to the Army Engineer Formation staff on the its products, and has also been raising awareness around its Logistic Support Bridge to other countries in southern Africa. “The reason is that Mabey Logistic Support Bridge is the lighter, stronger successor to Bailey Bridge and is a natural replacement for those countries that still have Bailey Bridge in their inventory.”
Already in late 2012 the SANDF was warning that it was running out of bridges. In December that year, Lieutenant General Derrick M Mgwebi, then Chief of Joint Operations, said the SANDF was going to run out of its stock of bridges used for assisting communities and warned that in the future it would be difficult to maintain bridge building.
The SANDF has built dozens of bridges (primarily Bailey bridges) for mostly rural communities as part of the SANDF’s disaster support and humanitarian assistance efforts.
Mabey Bridge evolved from the 1940s Bailey bridge, a portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge developed by the British in the Second World War. This type of bridge has several advantageous features, notably its light construction and ability to be erected without heavy equipment. The Bailey bridge celebrates its 75 anniversary this year.
The Bailey bridge was improved over the decades by Mabey, whose current Logistics Support Bridge can take the weight of a main battle tank across a 60 metre span. As the bridge is modular, it can be assembled in many different lengths, and requires no major equipment to put together. Andrews pointed out that a trained troop of army engineers can build a 39 metre bridge in a single day, but it generally takes two to three days to deliver components, set out the site, etc.
The Mabey Logistic Support Bridge has been adopted by NATO as its Line of Communication bridging system and has been used on NATO deployments in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. It was used extensively on operations in Iraq by the British Army and by the US Army, US Marine Corps and the US Navy Seabees.
Mabey has sold bridges to African countries, including Tanzania and South Sudan. Armed forces from two dozen countries have bought Mabey’s Logistic Support Bridges. Its bridges have been deployed in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mabey Bridge is represented in South Africa by ECM Technologies, which represents some 40 global, mostly defence, companies. The formal partnership between the two companies has been in place for five months, although Mabey Bridge has been working with ECM Technologies on opportunities in South Africa for more than 2 years (since September 2013). This year the company will take a space with ECM Technologies on their stand at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September.