United Kingdom: Wednesday, 21st September 2011 --[ASDWire]-- Saudi Arabia has been confirmed as the first overseas country to order and buy into Creation's Zephyr protected vehicle programme. The deal, which establishes a partnership between Penman Group and ERAF Industries, part of Fahad International Company Limited, was finalised during the DSEi Show in London earlier this month. The partnership involves a significant element of technology transfer and will include the establishment of a new in-country operation which will develop and jointly manufacture the Creation Zephyr MRV family of vehicles for tri-service applications in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ERAF Industries is Saudi Arabia's leading armoured vehicle upgrade and remanufacturing specialist - and the development marks the inauguration of its expansion into full vehicle construction.
Initial stages will focus on the 4x4 MRV in a number of configurations, with the 6x6 variants to follow in 2012. Work has already commenced on the project and a pilot vehicle, which will incorporate a number of specific features and regional requirements, is scheduled to be delivered before the end of this year. Precise details of the contract and its value are not being disclosed.
Penman Group Managing Director, Bryan Findlay says, "When we acquired the business, design and intellectual property rights of Creation early in 2011, we recognised the Zephyr vehicle's potential as a world market product, not least because of its modular design and thus suitability for manufacture and assembly in local markets. Many countries now wish to invest, develop and support their local economies and indigenous industries. The knowledge transfer element of this contract is indicative of Saudi Arabia's world leadership and ambition to strengthen its skills and manufacturing capability for the future - and we are very proud to be a partner in that process".
Abdullah Al Ameel, Chairman of Fahad International Company says, "The Zephyr is a fine example of the type of world class design engineering and technology which the United Kingdom has been able to provide for our country over many years. It fits well alongside our company's established portfolio of defence products and of course, there is important added value to be gained for all of us through the associated knowledge transfer programme".
Creation's Zephyr MRV protected platform programme is an integral part of Penman's future group-wide capability - and the latest upgrade variant made its debut at DSEi. The upgrade has also opened up the programme to develop to its full scope and potential. The original Zephyr design concept envisaged a fully functional rolling mine resistant underframe, onto which a wide variety of protected, softskin or even demountable top cabs, citadels or structures could be integrated. To date, development and production ready units have been configured around typical protected patrol vehicle requirements, whilst concurrent full design and pre-production studies have included a wide range of other applications.
Throughout its design evolution, the Zephyr has featured a composite 'occupant survival cell' with surrounding protection including a V-form belly plate and an integral blast mitigation system. Variants of the Zephyr can be configured for operational roles, body types and specialist applications such as pick-up utility vehicle, light logistics cargo carrier, troop carrier, command and control, demountable shelter, weapons mounted installation kit (WMIK), reconnaissance and battlefield ambulance. Crew and seating layouts can be varied and space is also allocated for weapons fit, communications suites, situational awareness (SA) systems and other electronic devices.
Specifically with world markets in mind, the mine resistant under-frame is also designed to accommodate a range of powertrain options, dependent on end user preference and specification. In addition, the unit has been developed to incorporate a rapid access and removal 'cassette' mounting for the cooling pack, engine, automatic transmission and transfer box. This permits main powertrain components to be removed for major repair and maintenance in about an hour.
The latest Zephyr MRVs feature Creation's new, extreme-duty nitrogen-based suspension all round, which improves roll-stiffness and provides further potential for payload growth. The new system, which carries no additional weight penalty, completely replaces the previous airbag based system, which was considered to be potentially vulnerable to small arms fire and damage in hostile operating conditions.
Hampshire-based Creation's Zephyr programme began almost five years ago as its privately funded initiative to develop an upgrade and protection package for in-service and legacy fleet vehicles. Its design team quickly recognised the sector's need for a fundamentally new, radical and fully integrated approach to wheeled protected vehicle engineering. Concepts, projects and design assignments such as the in-house Zephyr, the Lockheed Martin AVA and the Ranger for Universal Engineering then followed, all of which incorporate creative engineering features which subsequently have been widely adopted. More recently, the company has completed designs for other international clients and its subsystems projects, such as the LifeSeat One blast seat, have won critical acclaim.
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