Bridge laying system LEGUAN

With the bridge laying system LEGUAN, already now, numerous armed forces and NATO allies have an excellent system at their command which matches the changed mission requirements in every respect.

The bridge laying system LEGUAN is the consequent and continued development of the armored bridge layer BIBER. Mounted on the chassis frame of the LEOPARD 1 the BIBER has been in service with the German Army since the 1970ies. Since the upgrading and retrofitting of the LEOPARD 2 A4 to become the LEOPARD 2 A5 in the early 90ies, the load carrying capacity of the BIBER-bridges is not large enough anymore for the modern systems. The LEGUAN system by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, whose bridges can easily be used by vehicles of the MLC80 class, not only offers sufficient load capacities for the vehicles in service with the  German Army (maximum weight momentarily at MLC70) but is also capable of carrying future, heavier systems as well as oversized and overweight equipment of allied armed forces.

Based on the chassis frame of the LEOPARD 2 the system was continuously adapted so as to by deployed globally and according to the requirements of missions abroad. Therefore, for the first time in its history, the system can lay and load bridges whilst protected by armor/tanks. The entire protection profits from a pressure-proof partition wall with a hatch, separating the space for the crew (commander and driver seats) from the hydraulics and technical compartment. The innovative protection concept was developed on the basis of research results, especially for this vehicle family.

The LEGUAN bridge layer can configure one bridge of 26 meters length or two of 14 meters length. The width of the obstacles to be overcome can be up to 24 or 12 meters correspondingly. In order to overcome larger obstacles so called „overlapping track layings“ are possible:

  • with two 26 meter bridges for obstacles with a maximum width of 40 meters,
  • with one 26 meter bridge and one 14 meter bridge for obstacles with a maximum width of 32 meters,
  • with two 14 meter bridges for obstacles with a maximum width of 20 meters.

The laying system has been designed in such a way that, when changing from a 26 to 14 meter bridge, no retrofitting is necessary. The laying process requires no further adaptations to the vehicle.

The automatic laying and loading system can lay a bridge horizontally in approximately 5 minutes (14 meter bridge) and 6 minutes (26 meter bridge) by a single person. The low silhouette of the vehicle remains preserved during this procedure. The loading of the bridge takes 8 minutes with the 26 meter bridge and only 7 with the 14 meter bridge. The system is capable of laying bridges at day and night, thanks to a distance measuring instrument, a thermal imaging device as well as a CCD camera. The operation of the system by one soldier alone, even with the hatch closed, is ensured by clearly laid out operating elements and a graphical user interface. An integrated program for a self-test guarantees the high reliability. In addition, the LEGUAN comes equipped with an emergency system for the laying and loading of the bridges.

The sophisticated technology of the LEOPARD 2 chassis allows for the operation, even under difficult bank and slope conditions:

  • Longitudinal tilt of the carrier vehicle: ± 10 %,
  • Transverse tilt of the carrier vehicle: ± 5 %,
  • Slope difference of the bank: ± 5 %,
  • Longitudinal tilt of the bridge: +/- 10 %,
  • Level difference of the bridge and laying vehicle: 0,2 m

Internationally operated bridge system
KMW created the LEGUAN tank-launched assault bridge system for the Norwegian, Greek, Belgian, Chilean and Turkish armed forces on the basis of the LEOPARD 1. The LEGUAN system can however also be adapted onto other new or used tank chassis frames.
For example, the system is in operation, mounted onto following tracked vehicle chassis frames:

  • Leopard 2 for the Finnish Armed Forces,
  • M60/M47 for the Spanish Armed Forces,
  • Polish T91/T72 for the Malaysian Armed Forces,
  • M1A1/A2 ‚Wolverine‘ Heavy Assault Bridge (HAB) for the US Armed Forces

The laying system can also be carried by wheeled vehicles, such as the 8x8 vehicle by MAN or the 10x10 vehicle by the Finnish company SISU.

Relevant equipment for missions abroad
Essential requirements of armed forces employed on missions abroad and their specific needs were taken into consideration and have already been integrated into the system of the LEGUAN Leopard 2.  Apart from the mission-specific armor, the system therefore also has a cooling system and an appliance for the loading of a modern BMS-system. Central covering panels, railings and a device to measure the load are also available as retrofit-kits, extending the capability profile of the bridges so that they can be used for the reestablishment of supply routes or for use by civilian vehicles.

The LEGUAN bridge system as floating bridge and ferry
Using additional pontoons and hydraulically operated ramps, the LEGUAN bridge can also be used for the building of ferries. The tank-launched assault bridge slides the unassembled bridge over the pontoons, to which the bridge is then fastened. The integrated water jet drives also provide for the highest maneuverability in shallow waters. Further, the ferry can be driven over hydraulically adjustable ramps, which are attached at the ends of the bridge. Even floating bridges can be mounted quickly with the LEGUAN system: several ferries can simply be coupled together, allowing a continuous transit of vehicles.

The LEGUAN bridge system by Krauss-Maffei Wegman is characterized by a broad scope of capabilities. In combination with the available kits the system can also be deployed as a floating bridge or ferry, besides the use as the regular 26 or 14 meter bridge. The bridge laying system LEGUAN is already in deployment with numerous armed forces and NATO allies, matching the military requirements as well as being interoperationally deployable.

Within the scope of quick reaction missions of the German Army, the overcoming of rivers and obstacles is also an important aspect, making the deployment of these combat support systems an absolute necessity.
The bridge laying system LEGUAN has been in experimental use on the chassis frame of the LEOPARD 2 since 2009 with the Bundeswehr. With 1 800 hours of test drives and 500 configurations of bridges, the test results of the technical centers 41 and 51 of the Bundeswehr have been very promising. A test of the system by the Technical University of Aachen in respect to the logistical mission readiness turned out positive, showing no substantial deficits, thereby proving the high mission readiness of the system. Hence, the system is considered ready to be put in service.

The system is currently in serial production by KMW, thereby providing the opportunity for a cost-efficient introduction of the system. It is now up to the Bundeswehr to deliver the system to the armed forces without delay, taking into consideration the current mission scenarios and the corresponding demand.