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Netherlands orders GDELS bridging systems

The Netherlands ordered three Improved Ribbon Bridge systems from GDELS – Bridge Systems on 30 June. (GDELS)

The Netherlands signed a contract for three new bridging systems with General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) – Bridge Systems on 30 June, the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website the same day. A GDELS spokesperson told Janes on 5 July that the systems are Improved Ribbon Bridges (IRBs) and will be produced in Kaiserslautern, southwestern Germany, but he declined to give the contract value.

The Dutch MoD said the procurement includes pontoons and boats, including for training, as well as equipment to transport bridge sections and boats and bridge adapter pallets to launch and recover the IRBs.

The IRB allows rivers as wide as 225 m to be bridged, according to the Dutch MoD. They will replace the Standard Ribbon Bridges (SRBs) procured by the Netherlands in 1985. The ministry said the IRBs are more suitable for higher water flow rates and have a greater maximum load capacity (MLC), with the reduction of noise and emissions contributing to the safety of personnel and to protecting the environment. The IRB is useable in currents of up to 3.05 m/s at MLC 80T/96W, according to Janes Land Warfare Platforms: Logistics, Support and Unmanned, which gives a construction time for a 100 m bridge of 30–45 minutes.

The IRB provides wet-gap crossing capabilities either as a floating bridge or as a multibay raft for tracked and wheeled combat vehicles for loads up to MLC 80T/96W that can be crossed by all NATO main battle tanks, according to GDELS.

The Royal Netherlands Army expects to receive its first IRB in early 2025 and for deliveries to be completed no later than 2026.

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