General Dynamics to upgrade bridging system for Arctic conditions

By Ethan Sterenfeld / December 22, 2021 at 4:23 PM

General Dynamics European Land Systems has won a contract to upgrade a bridging system for Stryker and some airborne infantry brigades for use in Arctic conditions, according to a Dec. 17 Army announcement.

The company will modernize the Rapidly Emplaced Bridging System with a $20.8 million firm-fixed-price contract, according to the announcement. The contract lasts until Dec. 16, 2026.

Ten of the bridging systems that are used by cold-weather units will receive Arctic-conditions kits, the program office wrote in an email this week to Inside Defense. There are no plans to add the Arctic kit to the entire fleet.

Cold-weather upgrades include a heater for each bridge system’s winch, a power pack to draw power from the truck that transports the system and “decentralization of the hydraulic valves to shorten the distance between valves and cylinders,” according to the fiscal year 2022 Army budget request.

Nine Stryker brigades and five airborne combat engineer companies use the bridge system, which can be carried by a C-130 cargo plane. The bridge can cross gaps of up to 13 meters.

Preparing for competition and conflict in the Arctic, including in Alaska, has received greater attention in the Army over the past year as the service modernizes for multidomain operations and large-scale combat. The service’s first Arctic strategy was released in March, and one of its five key goals was to increase power projection capabilities in the region.

The Army is testing new, tracked ground vehicles for the Arctic, to replace a decades-old fleet that is expected to reach obsolescence in FY-23. Army Alaska headquarters is expected to be expanded through the addition of a multidomain task force that is dedicated to the Arctic.