British engineering skills that are relied on by all the UK based Formula One teams are now playing a key role in Ocelot, a new light protected patrol vehicle that provides unprecedented levels of survivability for troops facing IEDs and other threats.
Founded in 2001 by two former engineering apprentices, Ian Wilson and David Shooter, Formaplex is a Portsmouth-based manufacturing group specialising in high end automotive injection moulding, machining and composite technologies. The company is leading the supply of the blast proof pods that protect the crew and passengers of the Ocelot light protected patrol vehicle, which has been designed and manufactured in the UK by Force Protection Europe, the foremost specialist in protected military vehicles, and defence automotive specialist Ricardo.
Formaplex's crucial contribution is highlighted by the fact that one of the composite pods they have delivered for testing has survived no less than nine blast tests designed to replicate the impact of explosive devices encountered in war zones such as Afghanistan. Formaplex has invested significant resources in its manufacturing capability for defence applications, including post machining and repair solutions for field damaged protective pods. An operations repair kit is concurrently being developed by the Ocelot team to ensure vehicles are returned to service with minimum disruption.
Along with high levels of protection, troops in theatre need vehicles that are flexible enough to tackle a variety of roles. The Ocelot has a modular design which enables different pods to be swapped out to equip the vehicles for different missions, such as patrol, fire support or protected logistics. The vehicle is also designed for exceptional manoeuvrability, so it is equally effective in the tight confines of built-up urban areas and for tactical manoeuvre on difficult terrain typically found on current operations in Afghanistan.
Ian Wilson, projects director at Formaplex, said, “Becoming involved in such an exciting programme is a big milestone in our company’s development. We are very proud that our technology will potentially be saving lives and protecting troops from injury. Ocelot has enormous potential for military and security applications around the world.”
David Hind, managing director of Force Protection Europe, said, “Ocelot has a top quality supply chain of UK companies and we are delighted that Formaplex is providing its very special skills to the programme.”
Mark Barge, Ricardo manufacturing director, added: "I believe that the involvement of Formalplex is a further demonstration of Ocelot's pedigree as the pinnacle of UK advanced engineering innovation using truly world-class state-of-the-art technologies to deliver a defence vehicle with unparalleled performance and crew protection."