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  • Phoenix And Ocelot Debut In DC
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 11:34 AM on Oct 25, 2010

    While the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program looks like it is in trouble, the UK is forging ahead with the somewhat similar Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) - a six-occupant, highly mobile vehicle that can be armored up to at least Stanag 2 (a 6 kg mine) level.

    Force Protection Europe and Ricardo, with their Ocelot vehicle, were selected in September as preferred bidder for the LPPV, over a team comprising Supacat and NP Aerospace. Ocelot is making its U.S. debut at the Association of the U.S. Army exhibition, which starts today in Washington, D.C.

    However, a surprise at AUSA is the appearance of a vehicle that did not make it out of development in time for the LPPV tests: the Phoenix, developed by Supacat partner NP Aerospace and MIRA, a UK vehicle design consultancy. Earlier this month, at NATO's Future Soldier conference in Prague, NP Aerospace chief executive Roger Medwell provided a preview of the design. As Medwell put it: "I had to make my own vehicle to test my armor."

    NP Aerospace is best known as the manufacturer of the controversial "Snatch" Land Rover. Developed for operations in Northern Ireland, it was pressed into service in Afghanistan because of its mobility, and more than 30 personnel have been killed in IED attacks on the vehicles. But, engineers associated with the design point out, it was not designed to survive a mine blast in the first place.

    Medwell says that Phoenix provides the same protection as the UK's Ridgback - a Force Protection Cougar equipped with added armor by NP - at a weight of 12 tons versus 20 tons for the US vehicle. One key is a chassis-less design with front and rear automotive subframes attached to NP's pod, which is primarily made from moulded composite armor. Fuel tanks are carried under the V-hull, and radios and other equipment are in a separate compartment outside the main pod.

    The basic vehicle tips the scales at 14,400 pounds empty and offers Stanag 2 protection, and it is designed to accept another 5,900 pounds of armor to reach Stanag 4 levels. A unique feature is that the added armor packs slide into spaces between the outer and inner shells - so that it's not possible for an attacker to tell from the outside what protection level is being carried. The Phoenix suspension has 19 inches of travel in its gas struts, and can be raised for maximum mine resistance and lowered for crew entrance and exit.

    One question asked in Prague: Does Medwell think that the Phoenix will have a chance in the US, given what the questioner called the US Army's "almost religious belief in slabs of steel." Medwell commented that "the wind of change is coming. But you've got to build it like composite - you can't mimic steel."

    Tags: ausa10, ar99, LPPV, uk

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