Switzerland has ordered 12 Leguan Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridges (AVLBs) from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW).
Speaking to IHS Jane's on 16 January, a spokesperson for the Swiss defence procurement agency (Armasuisse) stated that the contract was valued at CHF179 million (USD204 million).
The Swiss Leguan (Iguana) AVLBs will be based on the Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) chassis. Switzerland currently maintains 134 Leopard 2 MBTs in operational service, with 12 surplus Leopard 2s to be converted to AVLBs under the contract. "This conversion and the synergies achieved as regards maintenance and in-service use have resulted in an economical solution," the spokesperson said.
The order comes after Armasuisse conducted field trials and evaluation of a prototype Leguan AVLB in April 2013.
The Leguan system is capable of laying a 26 m bridge rated to carry around 70 tonnes in weight (Military Load Classification 80), or can deploy two separate 14 m bridges.
The first series production Leguan AVLB is scheduled for delivery in September 2017, with all deliveries planned to be completed by August 2019.
Switzerland will become the fourth country to operate the Leopard 2-based Leguan AVLB system, and the sixteenth to operate the system overall (including the earlier Leopard 1-based system).
Each of the 12 bridging systems ordered by Switzerland includes: a bridgelaying vehicle/carrier based on the Leopard 2 chassis and fitted with a bridge mounting and laying device, one 26 m MLC 80 bridge set, one bridge set of two 14 m MLC 80 bridges, a resupply module including either an 8x8 truck with a heavy-duty hydraulic crane and semi-trailer for transporting and delivering the bridge or a 6x6 prime mover truck and semi-trailer, as well as safety equipment and railings.
Although contracted to KMW, the Armasuisse spokesperson told IHS Jane's that "Swiss industry is involved in the procurement project either directly or through offset commitments. RUAG Defense will assume the material competence centre function for maintaining the system during its in-service period".
The value of the Swiss order includes logistics, training, inflation up to the time of delivery, and risk.
The nature of Switzerland's mountainous terrain and the civil defence-focused role of its military creates a requirement for a large amount of bridging capability.
The Leguan will replace existing 66/88 AVLBs, which will be retired from service. It will be operated by Swiss Armed Forces' armoured engineer battalions in order to provide a tactical combat field bridging capability.
The new Leguan 2 tracked AVLBs will serve alongside the Swiss Armed Forces' new unarmoured Williams Fairey Engineering Limited (WFEL) Dry Support Bridges (DSBs), based on a wheeled Iveco Trakker chassis. In total, Armasuisse ordered 28 launch vehicles and 16 DSB bridge modules split across two contracts signed in December 2010 and December 2013. While the AVLBs are specifically intended as tactical bridges for use in combat situations, the DSBs will provide all-round capability for the Swiss Armed Forces' engineer and disaster relief battalions as a logistics bridge.