The UK MoD has unveiled two new vehicle types – the Ridgback and Panther.
The Ridgback urban patrol vehicle is similar to the hugely popular Mastiff, which has already proved its worth in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
It has bought 150 of the vehicles, which will undergo an integration programme that will see additional protection, weapons, communications systems and specialist electronic counter-measures equipment added to turn the Cougar 4x4s into Ridgback.
The Panther has the ability to operate in all weathers and uses thermal imaging equipment that “sees” in the dark.
Panther vehicles are protected against a range of threats and the majority are fitted with a sophisticated weapon system that allows the user to operate the machine guns with a camera and joystick from inside the vehicle.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Baroness Taylor said she is always “looking for the newest technology to address the ever-changing threats, and offer the greatest protection, mobility and firepower while giving our commanders the choice of vehicles they need to carry out the tasks they face”.
“Together with industry we are turning around new technology and upgrades to existing kit under the Urgent Operational Requirement scheme, delivering core equipment projects like Panther and ensuring our forces are well-equipped and battle ready.”
The MoD also announced the purchase of fourteen extra Viking – tracked, amphibious vehicles, which are capable of swimming in deep water while fully laden with marines and equipment – from BAE Systems in a £14m contract.
The MoD has also ordered 72 additional Jackal vehicles from Babcock Marine.
By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh