12 Sep 2018

WFEL ‘bridges’ nations following Australian Army contract

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has visited the Stockport-based military bridge manufacturer WFEL in time to see the finishing touches put to a multi-million pound Australian Army contract.

For WFEL, completion of the £53 million Australian Army contract is indicative of an international trend; the business has generated a staggering £600 million in defence export orders alone over the past decade. During his visit the Defence Minister paid tribute to this whirlwind success, describing WFEL as “a model for how companies across the country can thrive on the global stage” at a time when defence exports have risen by over 50% to £9 billion.

The bridges themselves will be used in combat scenarios to provide rapidly-deployable temporary infrastructure, ensuring soldiers and essential equipment are able to navigate even the most challenging of terrain. The bridges can also be deployed in times of crisis – during natural disasters, for example, where infrastructure often serves as an essential lifeline to those in desperate need.

“Through WFEL, Stockport is leading the world in military bridges which help troops defeat our enemies and provide essential aid to people in disaster zones,” said the Defence Minister.

“Not only does WFEL bring hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds of investment to the UK, but it enables relations with some of our closest allies to flourish. As they finish an order for Australia, kick one off for America and look towards more opportunities to build British bridges, they are a model for how companies across the country can thrive on the global stage and play a key role in the defence of our nation.”

Acknowledging the close collaboration between UK and Australian industry, Air Commodore Brian Edwards – Head of Australian Defence Staff in London – added: “The Australian-UK bilateral defence relationship has been forged over many years and is incredibly strong and enduring.

“In recent times, we have seen an increased emphasis in opportunities for collaboration from a defence industry standpoint. This project introduces into service the latest addition to the Australian Army’s suite of combat bridging. It will ensure that the Australian Defence Force has an enhanced gap crossing capability which will enable land forces, both mounted and dismounted, to cross wet and dry gaps in support of operations.”

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