Over four decades of ‘troubles’ Northern Ireland has witnessed the emergence of many special vehicle designs; from special-to-role armoured personnel carriers to special patrol vehicles and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) vehicles.
One of the more iconic sights around the Province throughout the duration of the ‘troubles’ has been the armoured Land Rover – or ALR; known colloquially as the TANGI; operated initially by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in formidable slate grey livery and now by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in more classic white and battenburg police livery, the ALR fleet is designed primarily to offer police officers protection from various calibres of firearm whilst also providing a high level of protection in public order situations.
The venerable TANGI, itself a derivative of forbears such as the Shoreland and the HOTSPUR Land Rover has served both the PSNI and the RUC with distinction over more than two decades. However, due to on-going security concerns within Northern Ireland and the age of the current fleet of armoured public order vehicles (some TANGI ALRs are 25 years old), PSNI drew up a requirement to begin to replace elements of the current TANGI fleet with new vehicles based upon a contemporary Land Rover chassis solution.
The OVIK solution – PANGOLIN – derives entirely from a detailed requirement drawn up by PSNI; the design won OVIK the contract to produce an initial batch of 60 x PANGOLIN vehicles which have since been joined by a further 60 Batch 2 (upgraded) vehicles for PSNI and three Batch 2 vehicles for Merseyside Police.
PANGOLIN benefits from the underpinnings of a modern heavy duty Land Rover 110 chassis complete with PUMA diesel engine and six speed gearbox. OVIK has worked in close conjunction with the Motor Industry Research Agency (MIRA) and Millbrook Proving Ground to produce a vehicle which meets and indeed surpasses the stringent handling and breaking requirements laid down by PSNI and the UK Hme Office. PANGOLIN has passed European braking test standards and the VSAG 08 handling requirement; this has been achieved through a rapid developmental programme which has seen significant upgrades and modifications to the standard Land Rover braking and suspension system.
“Our biggest initial challenge was quite simply one of time. Due to the operational imperatives of the PSNI, we had under six months from contract award to delivery for the Batch 1 vehicles. Given that PANGOLIN was a new design in January 2011 OVIK prototyped, developed, tested and built 60 vehicles, from scratch in a little over five months. The risks associated with concurrent prototyping, testing and development were significant but, working in conjunction with an expert project team consisting of operational officers from PSNI and through a virtual 24/7 process over six months we met the requirements laid down by PSNI”. Jez Hermer MBE – CEO OVIK Group.
The vehicle is configured to carry up to six fully equipped police officers whilst the design takes into account some of the very unique threats encountered in the Province. Ballistic protection levels and materials remain classified but in addition to the pure ballistic protection PANGOLIN is ‘hardened’ to withstand petrol bomb attack and assaults from bricks, paving slabs, scaffold poles, crow bars and various improvised explosive devices.
‘When these vehicles return to base from a public order situation they look like they’ve done ten months in Iraq’ said a PSNI engineer. ‘Rioters tend to focus upon the ALRs and vent their anger, they do everything they can to try to damage the vehicles; we’ve even had refrigerators dropped on them from bridges and high rise buildings’.
These vehicles have to be almost uniquely tough and employ a range of steel and composite materials to produce a vehicle of the necessary durability and protection whilst keeping within the vehicle weights tolerance.
The PANGOLIN fleet entered service in June 2011, specifically in time to support the PSNI through the ‘marching season’ – an annual period within Northern Ireland when various groups from across the Loyalist community conduct street marches. The season invariable produces fairly significant public order issues and this year was no exception with PANGOLIN receiving an immediate baptism of fire from petrol bombs, bricks and paint.
‘We are really pleased with what OVIK have been able to produce for us within such a very short space of time. We understand the extreme pressure they were under to produce a vehicle from a standing start in such a short time and we are truly grateful. Many people, even from within our own organisation, said it couldn’t be done in the time frame – but OVIK have proved their capability and determination’. – very senior PSNI Officer at the official hand-over ceremony on July 21st 2011.
The design team at OVIK are now working on a third generation variant of PANGOLIN based upon the OVIK STRIVE chassis. PANGOLIN ADVANCE is a derivative of OVIK's STAGG armoured vehicle - based on the OVIK STRIVE chassis system. PANGOLIN ADVANCE is due to debut in mid 2013.
Copyright: OVIK Solutions Ltd