Coventry, UK. NP Aerospace, a global armour manufacturer and vehicle integrator, has re-engineered the Ridgback and Mastiff platforms for an Urgent Capability Requirement (UCR) in Mali, Africa, under the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) Contract.
The off-road mobility upgrade contract, awarded in May 2020, is valued at c. £7m and covers 12 vehicles and associated spares. It has enabled proven, heavy armoured vehicles held within the protected mobility fleet to be used to protect British Army troops in challenging operational terrains. Optimising current platforms has significantly reduced delivery timescales, ensuring our soldiers are safer, faster.
As engineering authority for the protected mobility fleet, NP Aerospace is leading the project with support from companies including HORIBA-MIRA, Horstman, Texelis, Timoney, Tyron and Universal Fabrications. A number of vehicles have already been deployed on operation during COVID-19 restrictions with the first wave delivered in just over 80 working days.
New vehicle systems have been implemented within the Ridgback and Mastiff to increase mobility, enhance safety and introduce new capabilities. These enhancements include state-of-the art, independent suspension systems incorporating Ride Height Control, along with upgraded driveline, steering and braking systems, central tyre inflation systems and increased diameter tyres.
Brigadier Anna-Lee Reilly, Head Vehicle Support Team for Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the UK Ministry of Defence, commented: “Our close relationship with NP Aerospace has been fundamental in our ability to deliver this capability to the Army in unprecedented timelines. From requirement to delivery, we have worked hand-in-hand to develop, trial and ultimately deploy this capability on operations in less than a year. Reviews have been extraordinarily positive, and the added capability has helped ensure that our soldiers are able to conduct their operations in a safer and more effective manner.”
David Petheram, Chief Operating Officer, NP Aerospace, said: “The off-road mobility upgrade is a significant development for the UK MoD. It has potential to extend the life of Ridgback and Mastiff which have saved lives on operation, whilst delivering performance improvements to match other high mobility vehicles. Reduced vehicle vibration has lessened driver and passenger fatigue, providing a better working environment for operational tasks. Mobility improvements have enabled a proven platform to be used in theatres of operation previously unachievable for standard vehicles.
“Whilst the upgrade was driven by a specific Urgent Capability Requirement, we see this development having a much wider impact. By using experienced NP Aerospace staff alongside off the shelf components, NP Aerospace has cut costs significantly and enabled UK MoD to handle new combat environments without the burden of developing a completely new platform.
“The speed at which we and our partners have re-engineered the platforms, with fully functional prototypes delivered in just over 80 working days, has shown that we have the capabilities to meet challenging military requirements even in a global pandemic with supply chain restrictions.”
A total of over 700 Mastiff and Ridgback vehicles have been armoured and integrated by NP Aerospace over the last 15 years for use in various operational theatres.
The Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) contract is being led by NP Aerospace as Engineering Authority for MoD’s fleet of 2,200 Protected Mobility Vehicles until 2024. The vehicles covered under the contract include the Mastiff, Wolfhound, Ridgback, Buffalo, Choker, RODET, Foxhound, Jackal, Coyote and Husky. Mastiff is a heavily armoured 6×6 PPV (Protected Patrol Vehicle) first deployed operationally to Afghanistan on Operation in late 2006. Ridgback is the smaller 4×4 variant.