The ULTRA AP armoured Ford F350 pick-up
The Ford pick-up truck has to be one of the most well-known tough-duty vehicles in the commercial arena. However the same design has also made an impression on the military market.
In early 2000 Ford produced a concept truck for the US Army based on their popular F-350 super duty crew cab. The design was structurally modified and equipped with advanced drive train, suspension, electrical and electronic components and was able to pass a series of desert field trials.
This development was part of the US Army’s COMBATT (commercially based tactical truck) programme, which aimed to use modified commercial trucks for military use to replace ageing vehicle fleets at low cost. In March 2008 the Iraqi Police purchased 2,600 vehicles including 300 Ford F-350 super duty pick-up trucks to strengthen its patrol vehicle fleet in the provinces.
The F-350 super duty COMBATT was structurally modified to a gross vehicle weight of 12,700lb.
The design included enhanced axle differentials, upgraded suspension, electronically controlled high performance shock absorbers, additional air springs, a central tyre inflation system and also military specification 37in tyres with a run-flat system. The truck was also equipped with protective armour on the underside as a safeguard measure for rough terrain.
In addition there was an onboard computer with an advanced global positioning satellite navigation system, night-vision system, collision warning system, and an upgraded military electrical system providing 12V, 24V and 110V AC power. The truck was also designed to ford 30in-deep water and also to operate in temperatures from -50°F up to 120°F.
An additional development version of the F-350 is being designed as a lightweight vehicle that is more fuel efficient under the IMPACT (improved materials and powertrain architectures for 21st century trucks) programme.
The usual power unit for the F-350 in military use is the six-litre power stroke V8 diesel (350hp) with a five-speed 5R110W automatic or six-speed manual gear box and 4×4 transmission (width 80in). The F-350 has a variety of chassis lengths from 137in standard to 158in extended cab. Fuel tank capacity can be from 29gal to 38gal depending upon the body configuration.
The ULTRA AP is a specially armoured majorly modified Ford F-350 pick-up truck (larger than the HumVee). The roadside bomb problem in Iraq and Afghanistan has required a move toward armoured vehicles even for light patrol operations.
The ULTRA AP (armoured patrol) uses lightweight armour, bullet and blastproof glass and a new armoured car-like concept body on the F-350 chassis and changing the seating arrangements so that passengers do not sit over the wheels (passengers face out all around the vehicle to watch for threats). The vehicle is also heavily armoured under the chassis and can deflect mine and bomb blasts away from the passenger compartment (blast bucket), which also acts as a roll cage.
The development has been less expensive than purpose-designed vehicles and has been shown to be very effective (under test by the Office of Naval Research). The Afghan Army has had the presence of mind to put in an order for 5,000 modified F-350s for patrols across rough terrain. Another similar armoured car design based on the F-350 chassis is the Sand Cat (developed by Plasan in Israel).
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