The contract was signed at the end of June and affirmed on July 20 during the famous “Vierdaagse” march around Nijmegen in a ceremony at Cuijk, where Dutch engineers traditionally bridge the Meuse River for the marching parties. The order comprises bridge sections with a total length over 225 meters together with support boats manufactured by Birdon USA.
The new systems will replace older pontoon bridges beginning in 2025, providing the Dutch Engineer (“Genie”) Corps with a capability in accordance with today´s military standards. All NATO vehicles can cross the system and, due to using the same connectors, pontoons are fully interoperable with those of other nations including the USA, Germany and Sweden. Therefore, bridge sections can easily be combined during operations while increasing speed of movement and military mobility.
The IRB will significantly strengthen the Dutch Army´s gap-crossing capabilities, making it an asset recently re-identified as a crucial prerequisite to move and deploy forces across the European theater independent of fixed civilian infrastructure. The pontoon systems can also be used for disaster relief, which also meets Netherlands requirements. The ceremony at the combined civil-military “Vierdaagse” event demonstrated the potential for the IRB.