in Defence / Security / Events

Defence Minister visits WFEL as it completes Australian Army order

Posted 10 September 2018 · Add Comment

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew today visited Stockport based builder of tactical military bridges, WFEL, as it reached completion of a £53 million deal to supply its vital logistics equipment to the Australian Army.



Above: Defence Minister Stuart Andrew sees Stockport firm finishing multi-million-pound military bridge order for Australian Army.
MoD / Crown copyright


The £53 million deal with Australia is part of £600 million-worth of export orders that WFEL has amassed over the past decade. The Defence Minister described the firm as ‘a model for how companies across the country can thrive on the global stage’ at a time when defence exports have surged by over 50% to £9 billion.

The workers also demonstrated their world-class reputation by constructing a 46-metre Dry Support Combat Bridge in just 90 minutes whilst the Minister toured the factory.

The bridges will be used in combat situations providing rapidly-deployable temporary infrastructure ensuring vital equipment and soldiers can navigate their way through the most challenging terrain. The military bridges can also be used in times of crisis during natural disasters maintaining essential lifelines to those who need it the most.


Courtesy WFEL

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: "Through WFEL, Stockport is leading the world in military bridges which help troops defeat our enemies and provide essential aid to people in disaster zones. Not only does WFEL bring hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds of investment to the UK, but it enables relations with some of our closest allies to flourish. As they finish an order for Australia, kick one off for America and look towards more opportunities to build British bridges, they are a model for how companies across the country can thrive on the global stage and play a key role in the defence of our nation.

Work continues at WFEL following the completion of this Australian order as the company has now turned its focus to new orders for the US Army, building upon the 116 military bridges that the company has already built for US forces.

Whilst 90% of its Stockport production is exported overseas, WFEL’s contribution to UK defence can be traced back as far as 1915. The company has been designing and producing bridges for the UK military since the 1970s, and the relationship remains to this day – the British Army has over 50 sets in service. They have been proven in the field in the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are also potential UK opportunities in the pipeline for WFEL, with the company currently bidding to update and replace some of the MoD’s military bridging systems. It could become part of the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme’s supply chain, which would support the current 227-strong local workforce.

The opportunities could mean a further boost to investment in the North-West, which already benefits from £2 billion of defence spending - supporting over 12,000 industry jobs in the region.

Ian Anderton, Chief Executive of WFEL, said: "As the leading tactical military bridge maker globally, WFEL continues to work to provide solutions for customers like the Australian Defence Force. Our long-standing relationship with the ADF first began over 30 years ago, when they chose our Medium Girder Bridges. We have been delighted to continue to support them again today, not only with the supply of further MGBs but also with a significant capability enhancement with the latest mechanised Dry Support Bridges.

"The adoption of the DSB not only provides the ADF’s Manoeuvre Commanders with the ability to cross significant wet or dry gaps quickly and efficiently, it allows a level of inter-operability with an ever-growing user base. We have worked collaboratively with the Commonwealth’s Managing Contractor to reduce risk for this contract and are pleased to be providing an off-the-shelf solution to the ADF’s wide-gap tactical bridging requirements."


MoD / Crown copyright.

The Minister was also accompanied by the Head of Australian Defence Staff London, Air Commodore Brian Edwards, who said: "The Australian-UK bilateral defence relationship has been forged over many years and is incredibly strong and enduring. In recent times, we have seen an increased emphasis in opportunities for collaboration from a defence industry standpoint. This project introduces into service the latest addition to the Australian Army’s suite of combat bridging. It will ensure that the Australian Defence Force has an enhanced gap crossing capability which will enable land forces, both mounted and dismounted, to cross wet and dry gaps in support of operations."

The Australian deal was made up of two contracts, following an internationally competed tender. As a result, WFEL supplied its leading Medium Girder Bridges (MGBs) and Dry Support Bridges (DSBs) to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). This has resulted in a huge boost for the 132 organisations who have benefited from contributing the WFEL supply chain.

The UK enjoys a very close bilateral relationship with Australia, which has strengthened over recent years, with the introduction of annual conferences and close co-operation on many international issues - including a shared commitment to fighting extremism on coalition operations, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Australia also recently decided to choose BAE Systems to build nine British-designed Type 26 warships. The deal, which could be worth up to £20 billion, has been hailed as the biggest Naval ship deal for a decade. It is not only another clear example of Britain’s world-leading defence industry, but has been described by the Defence Secretary as ‘the dawn of a new era in the relationship between Australia and Great Britain, forging new ties in defence and industry in a major boost as we leave the European Union’.



 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Loganair awarded Derry to Stansted PSO route

Loganair has been selected as the new operator for the Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract to secure Derry’s sole air service to London, following the weekend’s news that previous operator flybmi has entered insolvency.

Teacher engineers herself a career change

One young woman from Ballyclare has engineered herself a new career.

IATA releases 2018 Airline Safety Performance data

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for the 2018 safety performance of the commercial airline industry showing continuing safety improvements over the long term but an increase in accidents compared to

PTC and IFS partner on field service management for A&D

IFS and PTC today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for a strategic collaboration expected to increase value for customers who differentiate their brand on service excellence and asset readiness across

T1 trainer makes first flight at RAF Valley

The first flight of the Texan T1 training aircraft has been completed at RAF Valley.

NSC extends JSCSC service

Simulation, training and consultancy specialist NSC is to stretch its unbroken service to the UK Defence Academy’s Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) beyond the 21-year mark.

ODU 0201311219
See us at
Airborne ISR & C2 Battle ManagementAviation Africa 2019SMIFAVWS BT1302060619