By Paolo Valpolini
The last 15 years have seen a constant evolution of Plasan’s SandCat, the 4×4 light armoured vehicle developed by the Israeli company headquartered in Sasa, some 50 km north-east of Haifa, along the border with Lebanon. In the last two years the company made a quantum jump, developing a new version of its successful 4×4 named StormRider, which differs completely from the previous models as it is a full structural monocoque fitted with independent suspensions. The latter can cope with the increased gross vehicle weight, 11,500 kg versus the 9,300 kg of the heaviest declination of the chassis-based SandCat, the M-LPV (Mine-protected Light Patrol Vehicle).
The powertrain remains that of the Ford F550, based on the Ford 6.7L V8 OHV Power-Stroke turbo-diesel engine coupled to the heavy duty TorqShift 10-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift; the vehicle is fitted with a 2-speed electronically operated transfer case and has permanent 4×4 wheel drive. It is equipped with 365/80 R20 150k pneumatics, bigger than the usual 285/70 R 19.5 used on the standard SandCat, giving a better mobility in cross-country. However the biggest thrust to mobility is provided by the independent suspensions, with coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers.
The monocoque hull ensures an all round Level 3 protection, including transparent armour (Level 2 on the roof), with possible upgrades, antimine protection being Level 2a/2b, ground clearance being 440 mm the vehicle being also fitted with a floating floor and footrest. However according to Plasan optional upgrades are available, including antimine; this would require to use part of the 1,500 kg payload, the vehicle being also able to accept the company Hybrid SlatFence designed to defeat RPG7 V, L, M, N and SPG9 rounds, with a 65% probability of neutralisation.
The StormRider can host up to 10 soldiers; the standard layout sees two at the front, two more behind them, and six dismounts at the rear facing inwards. Access and egress is made through four side doors and one rear door, a roof hatch being also available. All doors except that of the driver are fitted with gun ports, two more being available on each sidewall and an optional RCWS can be installed to increase the firepower.
The StormRider is slightly bigger than the original SandCat, 6.034 meters long, 2.533 meters wide and 2.620 meters high, the wheelbase being 3.683 meters and the track 2.132 meters. The 330 hp engine ensures a power-to-weight ratio of over 30 hp/t, maximum speed being 105 km/h, the StormRider being able to overcome a 60% slope and a 35% side slope, approach and departure angles being respectively 38° and 36°. The fuel tank contains 200 litres, a considerable increase over the 135 litres of the SandCat, which should increase endurance, although data were not provided. “We already have a launch customer,” Mr. Nir Kahn, Director of Vehicle Design, tells EDR On-Line, “that is a different one from the customer that generated the original requirement,” he adds. The identity of both customers, as well as numbers and configuration, remain of course undisclosed, Mr. Kahn adding, “We have started production but not yet delivered.”
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Photos courtesy Plasan