Soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas recently ran the new Joint Assault Bridge through operational testing, figuring out what works and what doesn’t before the vehicle is fielded to deploying units.

The JAB system is a track-wheeled vehicle that carries and launches a “scissor” bridge, which allows Army mobility augmentation companies alongside armored brigade combat teams to cross over gaps on the battlefield.

The JAB will replace a couple of older bridging systems – the Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge and the Wolverine.

Both the Army and Marine Corps will field the system to replace legacy bridging platforms.

The older systems can’t quite handle the heavier M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley vehicles over time.

The 60-foot long bridge with an estimated three-minute set-up time is expected to improve deployment time.

The AVLB takes six minutes to set up, the Wolverine takes three to five, according to officials.

The JAB began production in 2016 by Leonardo DRS to replace existing the M60 and AVLB, used extensively in the 2003 Iraq invasion.

It’s an M1A1 Abrams tank hull with a “hydraulic bridger launch system,” according to Leonardo.

Engineers from Alpha and Bravo Company, 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division will use the JAB vehicle in a realistic tactical scenario, according to an Army release.

“We are also collecting data on the reliability, availability, and maintainability of the JAB vehicle, so that we can identify any issues causing malfunctions of hardware failure now, rather than after fielding of the equipment,” said Heidi Watts, chief of the Army Operational Test Command’s Maneuver Support Test Division.

The testing plans began about a year ago, Watts said.

“Planning so far out ensures the test includes exercises composed of both day and night JAB operations, which equates to providing the most realistic missions and threats,” she said in the release.

The system is expected to enter “low-rate initial production” this year and, following testing results could begin fielding as soon as next year.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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