The M3 amphibious rig can be driven into a river and used as a ferry or, when a number are joined together from bank to bank, as a bridge, capable of taking vehicles as heavy as the Challenger 2 main battle tank.
The M3 has a number of improvements over the M2, which it replaced:
- it can deploy pontoons on the move, in or out of water
- it needs no on-site preparation to enter the water
- it can be controlled from inside the cab when ‘swimming’
- its control functions have been automated allowing the crew to be reduced from four to three.
A single two-bay M3 can carry a Class 70 tracked vehicle, where two M2s would have been required for this task with additional buoyancy bags. Eight M3 units and 24 soldiers can build a 100m bridge in 30 minutes compared with 12 M2s, 48 soldiers and a construction time of 45 minutes. The M3 is only 1.4m longer and 3,300kg heavier than the M2. It is still faster and more manoeuvrable on land and in water. A four-wheel steering facility gives a turning diameter of 24m.