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By Julian Nettlefold

26 Apr 10. Ushering in the 12th Anniversary of the versatile and unique Land Rover WMIK vehicle, designed by Ricardo in conjunction with Land Rover, BATTLESPACE visited Ricardo’s Shoreham-on-Sea plant to see the latest developments in the WMIK Programme.

WMIKs are manufactured by Ricardo Vehicle Engineering using in-service MoD Land Rovers and feature a strengthened chassis and are stripped down, fitted with roll cages and weapon mounts. Typically the vehicle will carry one 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) or on occasion the MILAN ATGM, on the rear ring-mount, with an additional pintle mounted GPMG on the front passenger side. In late 2006, the MoD announced it was purchasing 40 new belt-fed Automatic Lightweight Grenade Launchers (ALGL) made by Heckler and Koch (HK GMG) that can fire up to 360 grenades per minute with a range of up to 1.5 km.; they are to be mounted on WMIKs in Afghanistan.

The vehicles have become a symbol of British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In keeping with their hearts and minds philosophy they were chosen for patrol duties instead of armoured fighting vehicles such the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. Following a spate of incidents, there has been concern that the unarmoured nature of the Wolf exposes the crews to excessive danger, and they are being supplemented by more heavily armoured vehicles such as the Vector and Mastiff Protected Patrol Vehicles.

Since development of the WMIK, Ricardo has developed a significant experience in the conversion of Land Rover Defender based products (WMIK, RDV, SRV and SNATCH Vixen) 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.

Ricardo is currently working on two WMIK contracts for the U.K. MoD, one, the development of 120 WMIK R+ vehicles using 40 E WMIK chassis and SNATCH 2 chassis being supplied by DSG with the pods removed. The other is the supply of a safety enhancement for 200 R WMIKs.

“The WMIK is highly popular with the troops in Afghanistan and we are pleased that the MoD continues to enhance the vehicle.” John Lake told the Editor.

Details of the R+ WMIK contract include:

* New heavy duty rear axles especially developped for Ricardo in California.
* An uprated chassis to 4.7 tonnes from 3.5 tonnes.
* A wider rear body.
* An armoured front crew compartment.
* New suspended seat frames
* An uprated rebored 300 TDi engine to 2.8 litres attached to an automatic ZF gearbox.

The contract will start in May and end in August at a rate of six a week. The Editor saw a number of chassis being prepared for the conversion inside and outside the works.

Details of the R WMIK safety contract include:

*New safety frame and roll bar giving more height and protection to the driver and commander.
* A lowered front weapon station.
* A fixed height commander’s seat

Ricardo is delivering 10 kits a week to theatre.

“The success of WMIK continues apace and looks like we will see the vehicle in service for some time?”

“Whilst we would like to continue working on the vehicle, it looks like this latest contract at could see the last improvement work to the WMIK, which is seen to remain in service with other Wolf variants until at least 2020.”

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