The first batch of the British Army new 4×4 Ridgback protected vehicles are currently being tested and are expected to be shipped to Afghanistan later this year. These vehicles, based on the 4×4 Cougar produced by the US based Force Protection company are lighter and more manoeuvrable than the 6×6 Mastiff armoured fighting vehicle, also based on the Cougar platform.
The 19.5 tonne beast can travel at a maximum road speed of 55mph (90km/h). The Ridgback is nearly two metres shorter and almost a metre slimmer than the Mastiff, allowing troops greater access and mobility within built-up environments. Ridgeback maintains the same protection level of Mastiff 2, regarding mines and IED but due to its smaller dimensions, it is nine tonnes lighter. To enable it to carry out different roles within Afghanistan Ridgback will be introduced in four variants: a troop-carrying protected weapons station, a remote weapons station, a battlefield ambulance, and a command post vehicle.
Up-armoring and mission package kits installation work is performed in Coventry, U.K. by NP Aerospace. The modification includes installation of add-on armor, including enhanced side armor and counter-RPG bar armor cages. The vehicle is fitted with Bowman communications, electronic countermeasures, night vision and thermal imaging. Multiple TV cameras are mounted on the sides and rear feeding panoramic views providing the crew with situational awareness from within the vehicle. Other attributes include run-flat tyres, modified seats offering superior protection from bomb blasts, and easy gear selection and driveability.