Within our present world climate of political unrest and the threat of new wars forever appearing on different horizons, the acquisition of armored protection vehicles has risen dramatically. Conflicts in the Middle East, the War against Terror in Afghanistan, unrest in Central Asia and rising street crime levels in Central America and South Africa, more and more people are forced to protect themselves against potential aggression. It is no longer realistic to say that only certain elements have a requirement for mobile armored protection. The threat of international terrorism even within the European Community and coalition mandates by organizations such as NATO, the European Union and the United Nations to provide protection, reconstruction, aid and emergency assistance globally, has forced these organizations into situations where the last remnants of the Geneva conventions and human respect has reached an all-time low. Today, anyone is a potential target.
Whereas in 1997 not a single car of any of our customers was put to the ultimate test in theatre, now, ten years later, we receive information of such incidents on a regular basis. Since 9/11, we estimate that worldwide (excluding Latin America) at least 1.000 armored SUVs and passenger cars were ambushed with small arms fire or hit by explosive devices in Afghanistan, Algeria, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Russia and other trouble spots. In most cases armor saved lives, but especially when explosives came to use, a shockingly high number of lives were claimed.
Terrorists and insurgents know that their targets make their daily moves in armored vehicles and they have adapted to this. In Iraq, as of late 2003, 40 to 60 percent of all attacks began with an IED. Some of these attacks included direct fire attacks immediately following the detonation of the device. However, more and more IEDs were subsequently being used as a stand-alone means to engage a target. The adaptation of using radios, cell phones and other remote control devices has given the enemy the standoff ability to watch from a distance and not be compromised. An IED can be almost anything with any type of material and initiator. It is a “homemade” device that is designed to cause death or injury by using explosives alone or in combination with toxic chemicals, biological toxins, or radiological material.
IEDs can be produced in varying sizes, functioning methods, containers, and delivery methods. IEDs can utilize commercial or military explosives, homemade explosives, or military ordnance and ordnance components. They are unique in nature because the IED builder has had to improvise with the materials at hand. Designed to defeat a specific target or type of target, they generally become more difficult to detect and protect against as they become more sophisticated.
To combat this new threat we put our emphasis on continuously developing and testing solutions that will effectively protect the occupants of our vehicles against blast overpressure, thermal effects and fragments.