The U.S. Department of Defense announced a dozen contract awards on Wednesday worth $541.2 million in combined value. Of these, Britain's BAE Systems (NASDAQOTH: BAESY ) (LSE: BA ) won by far the largest award -- a $149.9 million firm-fixed price, no option, multiyear contract to supply the U.S. Army Contracting Command Tank and Automotive (commonly known as TACOM) with 49 M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (HERCULES) vehicles, along with three sets of space parts.
The U.S. Army describes the HERCULES as "a full-tracked, armored vehicle that uses the existing M88A1 chassis but significantly improves towing, winching, lifting, and braking characteristics." It is used primarily for the recovery and salvage of heavy tanks (such as the Abrams), self-propelled artillery units, and other tracked armored vehicles that have been damaged in combat.
Resembling a tank itself (and indeed designed on the basis of the chassis of an M60 Patton tank ), HERCULES weighs 70 tons and can travel at top speeds of 25 mph over distances as long as 200 miles. It is generally armed with only a single .50 caliber machine gun, however.