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BAE Systems will deliver the first M88A3 prototype for the M88 heavy armoured recovery vehicle modernisation programme to the US Army this year, following a contract amendment, the company announced on 21 December.

According to the statement, the 2019 development contract for eight prototypes has been expanded by US$79M (€70M) to US$329M (€290M).

The modernisation is intended to make the M88 armoured recovery vehicle capable of towing the new versions of the M1A2 MBTs, the weight of which has increased to nearly 80 tonnes. As part of the modernisation, the M88 will receive a Caterpillar diesel engine with a power output of 990 kW and a hydropneumatically suspended running gear. The seventh roller, which became necessary due to the increased weight of 78 tonnes, is an external feature. At the same time, the protection against bullets and blast is improved.

The weak point of M88A3 remains the A-mast for moving heavy loads (up to 36 tonnes), which can only be turned with the entire running gear. After completion of the tests, a decision will be made on the conversion of the entire fleet. The US Army currently operates 835 M88A2s and 360 M88A1s.