RICARDO CONTINUALLY IMPROVING THE PRODUCT
By Julian Nettlefold
27 Jun 08. Ricardo was out in force as usual at DVD, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the versatile and unique WMIK vehicle, which continues to evolve from its original conception. It is interesting to note the huge growth in WMIK-type vehicles over the past 10 years
Ricardo has significant experience in the conversion of Land Rover Defender based products (WMIK, RDV, SRV) and Pinzgauer for global military applications on a volume basis. This includes installation of a ring-mounted weapons system, chassis upgrades, the addition of armour protection, onboard power and payload enhancement. Ricardo also has significant experience militarising commercial vehicle platforms (e.g. Ford F350) from both an armour application and communications specification perspective. The focus is on developing cost effective military vehicle solutions. Ricardo also focuses on developing its own unique military vehicle equipment solutions – vehicle infrared lighting and lightweight mesh seating are two examples.
John Lake of Ricardo told the Editor, “The RDV was conceived as an adaptation kit to enable the conversion of standard Land Rover Defender transports – already strengthened to include chassis outriggers and roll-cage mounts – into peacekeeping and other specialist role vehicles in just a few hours. Following ten years of exceptional service, a fleet of 200 WMIK-equipped Land Rover Defenders is undergoing a major upgrade by Ricardo Special Vehicles.”
The programme, which is already 50 per cent complete, involves significant enhancements to crew protection systems as well as a significant increase in vehicle payload, enabled by in-depth re-engineering of the chassis and suspension systems. These are just the latest improvements to the original WMIK product, which has been sold to a number of customers from other NATO and Commonwealth countries. It has also produced a range of optional modules and products, including infra-red lighting systems and lightweight seating systems, which are compatible with many vehicle types.
In addition to the standard Land Rover Defender WMIKs used by the British Army, Ricardo has developed similar RDV concepts based on other platforms, such as the Ford F350 and the SUPACAT/Babcock MWMIK.
Paul Tarry, operations director of Ricardo Special Vehicles told BATTLESPACE, “We are proud to have supported the peacekeeping roles of the British Army over the past ten years with the WMIK-equipped Land Rover Defender product. The latest upgrade contract is a further demonstration of the way in which we are able to leverage the very latest in automotive processes and technology to develop state-of-the-art defence vehicles.”
It was interesting to note from John Lake that since the MWMIK was brought into service, the MoD has continued to order the WMIK and some 200 have been supplied since last year.
Ricardo also showed details of its Vixen SNATCH Land Rover which is an uparmoured version of the original SNATCH vehicle. The vehicle has the same Land Rover chassis but with uprated axles giving a 4.1 tonne payload to accommodate increased armoured protection 33 Vixens are being supplied into theatre, with better mine protection, from a concept to final design produced in less than three weeks.
Ricardo has entered into an agreement with IAI to promote the Guardium UGV to the MoD. Working in association with ULTRA Electronics, Ricardo showed a version of the Guardium at DVD with Ultra’s Quad-2 Compact day/Night Observation system.
Guardium’s perimeter security system addresses the critical period between the initial warning of perimeter intrusion and response. Operating in the perimeter fence area, Guardium deploys its unmanned ground security vehicle (UGV) to continuously patrol, survey, and report on the status of the perimeter area and react immediately to isolate, contain, communicate with, and control