Midland manufacturing had a major boost when JCB announced it had won the biggest order in its near-60-year history.
The Staffordshire group has won a contract worth up to £80 million from the American armed forces for a specially designed and developed armoured high speed digger.
JCB fought off competition from US rivals to clinch the order for the vehicle, a hybrid of the world famous JCB backhoe loader - invented by the legendary Joe Bamford, the founder of JCB - and the Fastrac agricultural tractor.
The vehicle, to be built at JCB's factory in Savannah, Georgia, is the "biggest, fastest and most expensive" digger ever to go into production, the company said yesterday .
The three year- long design and development phase of the project was backed by an intensive marketing campaign culminating in JCB managing director and chief executive John Patterson getting a personal meeting with President George W Bush.
"To win a US military contract against American and international opposition is tough, but JCB's engineers have done a superb job in designing such a capable machine," said Mr Patterson.
The contract came from a military decision to develop a " high mobility engineer excavator", or HMEE, tough enough to operate in combat zones and fast enough to keep up with convoys.
It also had to be designed to allow it to be air-lifted by a Hercules C-130 transport.
" The HMEE will revolutionise the capability of military engineers thanks to JCB's breakthrough technology and presents us with huge global opportunities," Mr Patterson added.
Production levels will be in line with the US Congress's annual defence appropriations, but JCB is understood to believe up to 1,000 HMEEs could be built between 2007 and 2012.
The US order is expected to spark interest on the part of armed forces worldwide. Axles for the 12-tonne machine will be shipped to America from JCB's plant at Wrexham.