The Ford Ranger is ready for battle – not just in the sales race against the Toyota Hilux – but now it has received military honours.
One of Europe’s leading military suppliers and automotive engineering firms, Ricardo, has created a concept vehicle based on the Ford Ranger pick-up that can be used for defence, policing, security and rescue services.
The military grade Ford Ranger was unveiled in the UK this week. The demonstration model has already been shown to defence forces in the UK and Europe and will continue its tour of duty in the coming months.
While the Australian military is yet to be approached, Ricardo’s special vehicle director Paul Tarry told CarAdvice via email: “The demonstrator has been shown to a number of representatives of the defence services of the UK and other friendly nations.”
When asked if Ricardo has approached Australian military about the Ranger, Mr Tarry said: “We have worked with the Australian forces on previous projects and would be happy to discuss this demonstrator with them.”
If Australian military were to adopt this version of the Ford Ranger, the vehicles could be fitted out in either the UK or Australia – depending on the range of modifications and the volume required.
“Where one-off equipment is required it generally makes sense to assemble in existing facilities,” Mr Tarry told CarAdvice via email. “In cases where fleet-scale requirements are to be met, however, it is possible that local partnerships or operations would be used.”
The Ford Ranger defence pack is equipped with a ring mounted weapon system – to mount high powered machine guns on the frame on the back tray – putting most gun racks to shame. There's also an armoured ballistic underfloor, and armoured glass.
Lightweight but heavy-duty front and rear bumpers are fitted, as are skid plates for the radiator, powertrain and fuel tank.
The side sills are protected by rock sliders and the company says there is improved water protection, even though the Ranger is already class-leading with an 800mm wading depth.
Inside the cabin there are four-point seatbelt harnesses to keep occupants pinned down and heavy duty covers to prevent mud from getting on the front and rear seats. A 24V electrical system provides the power boost required to run “modern defence vehicle applications”.
Ricardo says the chassis can be equipped with upgraded springs, shock absorbers, brakes, heavy-duty wheels and all-terrain tyres. There’s a winch up front and a heavy duty tow hitch at the rear.
While the media statement says Ricardo will offer the military-grade Ranger with Ford’s twin turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel matched to Ford’s 10-speed auto, the concept vehicle appears to be running the old 3.2-litre five-cylinder, if the badge on the front fenders is anything to go by.
So far, no-one has signed up for the weapons grade Ranger, but the company says it is still early days.
Ricardo is a well known supplier in the military world – and has an impressive history.
Having earned its stripes in 1915 during World War I developing tank engines that wouldn’t blow smoke (so as not to give away their position to the enemy), the company went on to design its own military vehicles from the ground up, which it still does today.
Ricardo designed and manufactured of the fleet of WMIK light attack Land Rovers and the all-new Foxhound vehicles, both of which are still in use by the British Army.
Other highlights include manufacturing the twin clutch gearbox for the Bugatti Veyron in 2005, and playing a key role in the development of the twin turbo 3.8-litre V8 for McLaren in 2010.
Ricardo also conducts diesel emissions calibration tests for numerous European car companies, among its vast portfolio of automotive industry services.
In the general media statement special vehicles director Paul Tarry said: “Ricardo is pleased to have created this general service demonstrator based on the Ranger vehicle. The adaptation of existing and well-proven automotive platforms for defence roles provides an opportunity to deliver a robust, fit-for-purpose and highly cost-effective package that is easy to maintain, benefitting as it does from an established international supply chain of parts and service.”
However, even though the donor vehicle might be built Ford tough, it still needs to beefed up to meet military requirements.
“It is crucial in such adaptations to engineer a solution that meets the exacting requirements of the intended applications,” said Mr Tarry. “Even the most robust of commercially available vehicles is unlikely to meet this threshold without careful, role-specific adaptation.”