Ridgeback is an up-armoured version of the Cougar MRAP vehicle
With UK Forces active in Afghanistan and Iraq a new vehicle was ordered by the UK MoD (Ministry of Defence) to provide protection to troops on patrol from mines and roadside bombs. The vehicle was the Cougar 4×4 produced by Force Protection Industries Incorporated (Ladson, South Carolina) in the US, who were also responsible for the highly successful Mastiff.
The UK MoD had ordered over 500 Cougars including Ridgback, Mastiff and Wolfhound variants. Ridgback vehicles were modified by the additional armour systems, specialist Nato-spec weapons, communications systems and electronic countermeasures equipment when they arrived in the UK (the vehicles were ordered in 2008 as an urgent operational requirement (UOR).
The first batch of five Cougars was delivered to RAF Brize Norton on 14 August 2008. NP Aerospace in Coventry had the contract (£81m) for carrying out the modifications to the Cougar.
The Ridgback is produced in four variants for different roles – a troop carrier, a protected weapons station and an ambulance or command post vehicle.
Ridgback design and features
Ridgeback is an up-armoured version of the Cougar MRAP vehicle. The vehicle has three doors (two in front and one rear double-sized crew door) and one topside hatch.
Ridgeback is 2m shorter and 1m slimmer than the Mastiff. Its standard dimensions are: height 104in (gun shield will add 26in), width 102in, length 233in, hull internal length 108in, fording depth 39in, and ground clearance 15in-16in.
The cabin can be sealed to provide NBC protection and there are various accessories including four point harnesses for seats, integral tool kit, ballistic glass, 360° ring mount or spigot mount for weapons, infrared/blackout lighting, dual spare wheels, 9,000lb-capacity electric winch and fire extinguishing systems as well as shielded ammo storage areas.
The Ridgback weapons include the heavy machine gun, 7.62mm general purpose machine gun, grenade launcher and some are equipped with remote weapons systems allowing the Ridgback weapons to be operated from inside using a camera and joystick.
Ridgback is hinged with additional armour to protect the occupants from mine and improvised explosive device (IED) strikes. The V-shaped hull deflects the blast impact away. from the vehicle. The add-on side armour can preclude the projectiles, shell splinters and RPG attacks.
The vehicle is powered by a Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine that can give 330hp at 2,400rpm and a torque of 860ft lbf at 1,450rpm with an operational range of 420 miles.
The transmission for the Cougar / Ridgback is an Allison 3500 SP series and the front and rear axles are Marmon-Herrington MT-17 and R-17 respectively (modified for the harsh terrain). The vehicle weighs around 38,000lb with a payload of 6,000lb and as such uses air brakes for effective halting.
The Ridgback entered service in June 2009 in Afghanistan (it is fully transportable by C17). The vehicle can carry 12 troops and can run on run flat tyres (Michelin XZL 395/85 R20 and Hutchinson VFI) at a speed of 55mph. The Ridgback is a mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) category I vehicle with a high armour rating (shaped hull and protected cabin using composite armour systems) and will also uses special armoured seats to protect troops.
The standard crew is six, but the Ridgback can carry up to 12 troops based on the variant. Electrics are standard 24V and there are two air conditioning units (24,000BTU and 48,000BTU) for use in hot climates.
The Global Armoured Vehicles and Counter-IED Vehicles Market 2011-2021
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