British specialist develops militarised Ford pickup
Based at Shoreham, on England’s south coast, Ricardo Engineering has a longstanding and well-deserved reputation in the Armed Forces, explains Iain Robertson, which makes its special version of Ford’s truck worth celebrating.
Having given the Ford Ranger, in Raptor factory-modified guise, a bit of a rough ride a handful of vehicle tests ago, it is pleasing to be able to report on an uniquely British redevelopment of the North American truck. It is also gratifying to note that the Ranger is rugged enough to tolerate significant additional refinements for a speciality market.
While the Raptor is hardly going to win fans priced at just shy of £50k, especially as its road tax bill will be horrendous (for at least five years of ‘ownership’), ranging between £75,000 and £100,000 for a purpose-developed security and defence vehicle (not including specific armaments), its order bank will be sizeable. TV News coverage from around the world has highlighted the practicality and accessibility of the modern pickup truck, into which classification the Ranger fits most appositely.
Ricardo creates high quality, cost-effective special vehicles for the world’s armed forces that are based both on bespoke concepts and on the adaptation of existing platforms to meet the required levels of robustness and in-field serviceability. The company has already designed and constructed a fleet of WMIK light attack Land Rovers and the all-new Foxhound vehicles, both of which are in successful ongoing use by the British Army.
Ricardo’s modification/adaptation process demonstrates a militarised version of Ford’s Ranger, to show how a workhorse can offer a highly cost-effective multi-role mode of transport for defence and other security-related applications. The general service Ranger Concept created by Ricardo is intended to be available with a range of powertrain options, including Ford’s powerful and refined 210bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue Bi-turbo diesel powertrain, which produces high torque for excellent load-lugging capabilities, mated to the company’s 10-speed automatic transmission for easy, and cost-effective driving. If you click back to the Ford Ranger Raptor story, you will understand the breadth of its performance envelope, which is actually very good.
Key features of the adaptation include a rollover protection system; a ring mounted weapon system, similar to that used in the WMIK; an armoured ballistic underfloor and armoured glass; lightweight but heavy-duty front and rear bumpers; skid plates for the radiator, powertrain and fuel tank; rock sliders and improved wading/fording protection; NATO IRR paint/camouflage and 4-point seat harnesses. In addition, its 24V electrical system is enhanced to provide the power requirements and EMC protection expected of modern defence vehicle applications, while the chassis can be equipped additionally with upgraded springs, dampers, brakes, heavy-duty wheels and all-terrain tyres, offering greater ride height and more versatile towing capabilities. In delivering the project, Ricardo has worked closely with Polaris Government and Defence, in particular for support in the areas of onboard power management and C4i (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) integration.
Paul Tarry, special vehicles director, Ricardo, told us: “Our company is pleased to have created this general service demonstrator based on the Ranger vehicle. The adaptation of existing and well-proven automotive platforms for defence roles provides an opportunity to deliver a robust, fit-for-purpose and highly cost-effective package that is easy to maintain, benefitting as it does from an established international supply chain of parts and service.
He continued: “It is also crucial in such adaptations to engineer a solution that meets the exacting requirements of the intended applications; even the most robust of commercially available vehicles is unlikely to meet this threshold without careful, role-specific adaptation of the type that Ricardo is placed ideally to provide. The militarised Ranger that we have created, with the support of Polaris Government and Defence, thus demonstrates the flexibility of this robust and versatile platform – as developed, re-engineered and re-imagined to fulfil multiple defence roles in an effective and very cost-efficient manner.”
Being careful not to mention the various war-torn areas that are reported on with sometimes too much detail, it does seem as no ‘Jihadist’ worth his salt would be spotted driving anything other than a pickup truck. Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Isuzu have gained much unwelcome promotional value from the coverage and the new Ford Ranger would appear to be a responsible alternative.
Conclusion: Much of the work carried out by Ricardo, for its international client base, is under an intense veil of secrecy, so it is quite amazing to be able to gain an insight into a vehicle that should soon be recognisable in the world’s trouble-spots.