BMT Defence Services, a subsidiary of BMT Group, the leading international defence design, engineering and risk management consultancy, has helped the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) deliver a lightweight, portable bridging device to help soldiers cross physical obstacles whilst on operations.

BMT and the MoD Manoeuvre Support Team worked together to search for an answer to the problem faced daily by British soldiers on foot patrol in Afghanistan, that of crossing a network of wadis, canals and ditches.

Roger Pidgeon, project manager for Short Gap Crossing at the UK MoD, said: “We received an urgent request for an ultra-lightweight and man-portable short gap crossing capability. In the first instance we looked to deliver a COTS solution, but none were immediately available on the market. BMT’s engineering knowledge helped us to reach specialist suppliers in the motorsport and aerospace sectors who have extensive experience in lightweight aluminium, carbon fibre or composite structures. Our requirement was turned into bespoke design solutions by BMT in just four weeks.”

The solution designed by Alpha Composites, a component supplier to a number of Formula 1 teams, was delivered to Afghanistan earlier this year. The system, made up of several composite modules, is carried by each soldier in the patrol. Soldiers can also use the system as a lightweight assault ladder, replacing the bulkier, heavier in-service equipment.

David Taylor, business development director of Alpha Composites, said, “BMT contacted us and asked if we could submit a design to their requirement. We are used to working to tight timeframes and we are delighted that our Short Gap Crossing system has received an outstanding reception by front line troops.”

Stuart Olden, BMT business lead for land systems, said: “The Defence Technology Strategy asks us to target the better, faster pull-through of new technology into military capability. The Short Gap Crossing project is a great example of MoD and industry working together to deliver critical equipment in a short timeframe; BMT’s agile, responsive, systematic approach has been proven by yet another project delivered on time and to budget. We are very proud of our work with Manoeuvre Support and continue to assist the team on a number of counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) programmes.”