Saturday, 14 June 2008
The Ridgeback takes shape
Almost as if it was ashamed of them, the MoD seems to have been remarkably reluctant to publicise its newly-ordered Ridgeback protected vehicles.
This now has been remedied on the MoD website, which tells us that, "British troops in the urban environments of Afghanistan and Iraq are set to benefit from greater protection as the first 'Cougar' vehicles begin their transformation into 'Ridgebacks'".
From what is written, it now seems that the Cougar base vehicles have arrived in the UK, and are now being upgraded with integrated additional protection, weapons, communications systems and specialist electronic counter-measures equipment.
Although no photographs are yet available, we are offered an artist's impression. This shows the familiar additional side armour – first seen on the Mastiff – plus the slatted (or "bar") armour to protect from RPG rounds. From the look of it, the slatted armour is fitted tighter in to the vehicle body, conforming with the wheel arches, thus not adding to its overall width.
This reflects a need for a vehicle which, as the MoD site says, "will provide greater protected accessibility in urban environments," where the size of the Mastiff precludes its use. This leaves the Mastiff to "continue to operate in the urban fringe and rural environments."
With the emergence of Taleban ambush tactics in Afghanistan, these vehicles cannot reach theatre too soon.