Tuesday 15 April 2014

Ricardo notches up two contracts

Ricardo plc has won two important contracts, one shared in the defence field and the other in motor racing.j

In the first, Morgan Advanced Materials, Ricardo and Ultra Electronics have won a £20 million contract to support and develop Ministry of Defence (MoD) Cougar patrol vehicles.

The new Cougar Post-Design Service (PDS) programme, which covers the Mastiff, Ridgback and Wolfhound vehicles fleets and is worth up to £20 million over the first two years, could be extended for as long as seven years.

The contract will cover a fleet of more than 600 vehicles, comprising in excess of 20 variants.

The programme will see the three companies deliver an annual service contract, with teams of experts giving round-the-clock technical and project management services to manage and support the in-service Cougar family vehicle fleet. 

Of particular importance to the programme will be the optimisation of safety on the platforms, in addition to configuration management, legal compliance and standardisation of the platforms by rationalising the component supply chain.

It is not clear from the statement to exact role of Ricardo in the programme. However, Ricardo UK managing director Martin Fausset said: “We are pleased to be working with Morgan and Ultra on this exciting and important programme. Ricardo has extensive expertise in the design, development, refurbishment and upgrade of military vehicles, and is able to draw upon the very latest skills, technologies and innovations from its work in the global automotive engineering and motorsports sectors.  We look forward to providing the benefit of our experience to this highly effective, all-British partnership.”

The trio won the bid against “strong competition” by best meeting the key criteria specified by the MoD, including quality, software, safety, environmental impact and vehicle integration, as well as the ability to provide a truly sustainable support solution.

The programme will be co-ordinated from Morgan Advanced Material’s specialist Coventry facility, drawing on the support of the company’s extensive local supply chain which boasts unrivalled defence sector experience, securing and creating jobs directly and indirectly across the region.

Duncan Eldridge of Morgan Advanced Materials - Composites & Defence Systems, explained: “This is a highly significant contract award for us and demonstrates the advantages of harnessing the unique capabilities of key partners such as Ultra Electronics and Ricardo to offer the MoD the best possible service in the key areas of armour protection, vehicle electronics and overall project co-ordination.”

Eldridge claims the new contract formally establishes Morgan Advanced Materials as the “UK technical authority” for the Cougar family, “positioning us ideally to bid for further contracts in this area”.

The Morgan Advanced Materials’ Composites and Defence Systems business has had something of a chequered career. The company, formerly known as NP Aerospace (NPA) and part of the Courtaulds Ltd of Coventry, became the subject to a trade buy-out of £71 million backed by one of its major suppliers, Morgan Crucible. It was renamed subsequently Morgan Advanced Materials - Composites & Defence Systems. It has worked closely in the past with Force Protection, part of the US business General Dynamics Land Systems.

The company is a global leader in specialised armour technologies. It designed, developed and integrated UK-specific, specialised armour protection and electronic systems into the entire Cougar family and also implemented and operated the spares support processes, including configuration management, stocking and supply chain management, keeping the fleets running during combat operations.

In 2006, the UK MoD began purchasing three different vehicles with a view to helping the British Army patrol high-threat areas, most notably in response to the widespread use of explosives by enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time of the contract placement BAe was arguably a prominent leader in this area, but the MoD chose Force Protection’s Cougar vehicles in favour of BAe’s RG-33 family.

The original British Cougar 6×6 variant was called the Mastiff Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) by the British Army. And whereas Force Protection produced the basic Cougar vehicles, the then NP Aerospace of Coventry integrated British equipment and up-armored delivered Cougars to create the finished Mastiff vehicle.

In May 2008, Britain ordered a lighter 4×4 patrol variant, which corresponds to the USA’s MRAP Category I Cougar vehicles. The 4×4 Ridgback has the same general profile and add-ons as the Mastiff. It is nearly 2m shorter and 1m slimmer than the Mastiff, making it easier to use in tight terrain and narrow urban streets.

For British use, Ridgback incorporates an electronics pack including Bowman communications, electronic countermeasures, night vision and thermal imaging. Inside, TV screens take multi-camera feeds. Some vehicles were fitted with a remote weapons system linking those sensors to a joystick-operated machine gun. Other features include the standard run-flat tires, modified seats that absorb some of a bomb blast’s initial shock, and easy gear selection and driveability (allowing for British layout differences).

Later the MoD continued its purchasing trend by adding 6×6 Wolfhound cargo variants, and later the modular 4×4 Foxhound light patrol vehicle. Specific figures were not released at the time and orders for vehicles developed through a series if ad-hoc additions rather as part of a long-term plan.

Mastiff, Ridgback and Wolfhound are powered by Caterpillar C-7 I6 diesel engines of 330bhp (243kW) output which drive through Allison transmissions. The Foxhound has the Steyr M16 3.2-litre diesel engine.

                                            Motor racing

Ricardo’s second contract covers a multi-year deal as the sole source of racing transmissions for the Japanese Super Formula series.

The Japanese Super Formula series consists of seven rounds of competitive racing among some of the most prestigious Japanese tracks.

Under the terms of the contract announced today, Ricardo will provide an in-house designed, manufactured and assembled racing transmission from its Leamington Spa facility directly to Japan where it will be assembled into the race car by each of the series’ competing teams. 

Mark Barge, managing director of Ricardo Performance Products, said he was delighted to announce Ricardo’s continued support of this prestigious racing series.

“Ricardo has a long-standing relationship within Japanese Motorsport,” he said. “This further underpins our reputation for designing, manufacturing and assembling high performance, racing transmissions combining technology and quality to provide highly competitive and highly durable transmission solutions to our partners around the world.”

Super Formula – formerly known as Formula Nippon – is the top level of single-seater racing in Japan. Formula Nippon evolved from the Japanese Formula 2000 series began in 1973 by way of the Japanese Formula Two and Japanese Formula 3000 championships.

For the most part, the Japanese racing series have closely followed their European counterparts in terms of technical regulations, but there have been some important exceptions.

The Japanese Super Formula car weighs 650kg and will be powered by 2-litre, inline, four-cylinder, direct-injection turbocharged engines with a six-speed, semi-automatic, longitudinal transmission. It also has the drag reduction system feature as in Formula 1.

Ricardo designs and manufactures racing transmissions for the world’s foremost racing series, including Formula 1, WRC, Indycar, Super Formula, World Series by Renault, World Endurance Championship, 24 Heures du Mans and many others.

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