The British army has taken delivery of a new generation of mobile field hospitals - signalling the end for MASH-style operating theatres based in tents.
New mobile hospitals mean an end to MASH
The 1 million state of the art units will replace the traditional military hospitals made famous by the classic television series MASH. Army medics are now being trained to use the new equipment in Aldershot.
They are then expected to be deployed to Afghanistan where British troops are carrying out peacekeeping duties and flushing out al-Qaeda terrorists.
The new mobile hospitals, built by Cambridge based engineering company Marshalls, can be transported on army trucks, in Hercules transport planes or by sea.
Once delivered they can be assembled to three times their transport size and ready for use in just two hours. Each hospital is made up of separate areas including a patient preparation room, operating theatre with recovery area, resuscitation and intensive care room and a gas and air purification facility.
From the inside they appear remarkably similar to a modern hospital.
Capt Gary New, senior theatre nurse with the army, said: 'In the past, we had to cope with dust and other impurities in the air every time a tent flap was opened.
'Now we can work in a sterile, air conditioned environment.'
The army is taking delivery of four of the military mobile hospitals and Marshalls says they've also had significant interest from governments worldwide.
Humanitarian organisations are also interested in the possible use of them in tackling disasters around the world.
Lt Col Stuart Green, based at RAF Brampton in Cambridgeshire added: 'It can be deployed to deal with emergencies to any part of the world for both military and humanitarian operations.'
An adapted version of the mobile hospitals, called Modular Transportable Surgical Facilities, are also being seen as a possible solution to NHS backlogs.
The NHS versions are bigger and take up to a week to assemble and offer an effective temporary answer to a lack of facilities.
by Duncan Milner
Founded in 1909, the Marshall Group has a turnover of £2.5bn and over 5,700 employees. Headquartered on a 900-acre site in Cambridge, Marshall has three principal arms to the business: Aerospace and Defence; Property; and Ventures.