While on a recent survey of the industrial waterfront in Oakland, California, Telstar Logistics spied a most unusual vehicle: A heavily armored backhoe strapped to an open-sided shipping container.
Moving in for a closer look, we observed that the vehicle was built in an unusual configuration, with four equally sized wheels on each corner. "It wants to go fast," we theorized.
The JCB HMEE-I is designed for excavating, earthmoving and loading. Its heavy-duty backhoe loader can self-deploy at speeds of up to 60mph and is designed for blast and ballistic protection. The vehicle is ROPS (rollover protective system) and FOPS (falling object protective structure) approved, and extra plates of appliqué armour can be fitted to the cab. It also has a blackout facility for night operations.
Here's a clean photo of a HMEE in action:
This promotional video from the manufacturer shows what the HMEE can do.
And here's a video that shows a HMEE deployed to Afghanistan:
Lastly, this photo provides a reminder that HMEEs are required to work on some very unforgiving jobsites:
Here's what happened:
The Army's new High Mobility Engineer Excavator saved the life of a Soldier in Iraq May 29, , when an anti-tank mine exploded as he was digging a culvert trench near South Balad Ruz.
The device exploded and immobilized the Army's replacement to the Small Emplacement Excavator, the HMEE. Sgt. Adam Smith Jr., 9th Engineer Battalion, 172nd Infantry Brigade, walked away from the wreckage.
"I'm thankful I was in the HMEE and not the SEE," Smith said.
"I am extremely happy with the blast protection offered by the HMEE; it saved my Soldier's life," said Capt. Andrew Maxa, Company B, 9th Engineer Battalion commander.
PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, US Army.