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BAE Systems assembling three M88A3 HERCULES prototypes

BAE Systems is poised to begin delivering M88A3 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System (HERCULES) prototypes to the US Army next year after completing a design maturity review, a company spokesperson told Janes on 22 December.

The service awarded BAE Systems with a contract valued at up to USD318 million in 2019 to upgrade its M88 recovery vehicles into a M88A3 configuration. However, this total soared to USD329 million after the army provided the company with an additional USD79 million for the programme in November.

According to army plans the company will deliver a total of eight vehicle prototypes in 2022 for testing, with the company spokesperson adding that the first three platforms are currently being assembled.

This new configuration is designed to eliminate the need for two vehicles to raise and move a single M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. Vehicle upgrades include a ‘modernised' powertrain, the addition of a seventh road-wheel to increase stability, and hydro-pneumatic suspension units to improve cross-country mobility and recovery operations.

In fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request documents, the army said it plans to test the prototypes in 2022 to determine if a single vehicle is the correct solution, and will make a production decision in FY 2023.

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