Army hits the road with huge diggers

Two 10-metre, bulletproof army excavators rolled into Tauranga last night.

With a top speed of 90km/h, the high mobility engineers' excavators (HMEEs), also known as combat engineer tractors, arrived in the Western Bay about 7pm, following a long haul from Gisborne.

The mammoth diggers are two of six owned by the New Zealand Army.

A team of five army personnel is touring the North Island on the excavators as a mobility exercise, said section commander Corporal Marcus Good.

The group left Linton Military Camp in Palmerston North on Monday and will drive to Whangarei today. They will then travel to Hamilton on Thursday, arriving back in Palmerston North on Friday.

Sapper Ben Armstrong, pictured, said it was exciting to take the machines on the road. "They're quite spacious and they take two people to operate. They're automatic, have six internal gears, weigh 17 tonnes and can go 90km/h. That's really special because most other [army vehicles] go 30km/h."

The highly mobile excavators are 10.1m long, 4m high and 2.5m wide, with increased protection designed to survive on the modern battlefield. They are also able to be used for engineer support to civilian aid, route maintenance and general engineering tasks.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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