ACS Armoured Car Systems markets protection solutions for civil, police and military use and is a leading developer of protected vehicles, of which ENOK is the best known. ESD had the opportunity to talk to Tanja Paeske, Member of the Executive Board at ACS.
ESD: ACS is best known for its Light Armoured Patrol Vehicle ENOK, of which the German Armed Forces have 250 in service in different versions. Which other military programmes are you working on? Are you looking at the future air-transportable wheeled platform for the German Army, or at certain export projects?
Paeske: ACS is the specialist for protected and special vehicles in sensitive weight ranges, especially the class up to 10 tonnes gross vehicle weight. So wherever high tactical mobility in connection with air transportability as internal or external load is required, our vehicles are strong candidates.
Next to the known variants of the ENOK we offer a Special Operations Vehicle (SOV) based on the combat proven ENOK chassis. The open passenger cabin can be modularly adapted for two to six fully equipped soldiers. The modular concept of the vehicle also allows a mission related stowage of the equipment. The ENOK SOV offers ballistic and mine protection. The vehicle was designed as an open crew cabin, but it can be quickly closed completely with little effort thanks to a tarpaulin cover and modular doors. This system allows protection against all weather conditions, and the doors also allow complete ballistic protection from the side.
ESD: With the military being your main customer, how important is the law enforcement market for ACS?
Paeske: The law enforcement market is very important to us. It is a fact that the demand for offensive vehicles for the Special Operation Forces (SOF) of both the military and police is increasing worldwide, and in my view the ENOK meets the needs of the users best. This is the reason why different police units like the German Federal Police and the Finnish Police already have the ENOK 5.4 and ENOK 6.2 in service. ACS is adapting the vehicles individually according to their needs. Thanks to their modularity, they can be quickly changed for different scenarios or mission challenges, in terms of protection, armament, storage space concept or number of seats.
ESD: Military and police operations, however, place different demands on a vehicle. Is it difficult to adapt, and where are the synergies – and potential added benefits – for the police customer?
Paeske: Of course, vehicles suited for the law enforcement market have to meet a couple of specific requirements. First of all, they must be suited for urban environments; they need to be agile, small and well manoeuvrable even in narrow streets. At the same time, they must retain their off-road capabilities, with extended ground clearance, wading depth and good performance on unpaved roads, and be able to overcome obstacles in the city, for example stairs. Like military vehicles, they must meet high security requirements, such as protection against ballistic threats like Kalashnikov fire, blast, and the intrusion of gas. And finally, flexible equipment options are important: weapon stations, windows with gun ports, and other armament options, sufficient stowage, and so on.
As a proven, highly protected, and very compact off-road vehicle, the ENOK meets all those requirements: One of the main features of the ENOK is its agility. In relation to the vehicle size it offers a very high protection class, generous space with high payload, and a low vehicle signature. It still has high off-road capabilities, and can be fitted for an offensive role, including equipment with weapon station and gun mounts. In short: It offers the best possible balance between outstanding mobility, payload, and a high level of protection. And on top of that, through-life support and the availability of spares are guaranteed by the global network of licenced Mercedes dealers.
ESD: Your third business line are civil vehicles fitted with discreet armour. Can you tell us a bit about your activities in this field?
Paeske: Triggered by the 2016 shooting in Munich’s Olympia Shopping Mall, we developed concepts for the protection of patrol vehicles. Such special operations show: the first forces on site are usually patrol officers. They have the situational awareness until special forces move up, but their equipment is limited. Our concept is based on protection kits with protection Level NIJ-IIIA or VR4 as upgrade solution for existing vehicles. The advantage is a high degree of protection, the OEM status of existing vehicles is maintained, there is no intervention necessary in the vehicle’s electrical/electronic system, and after all, the protection kit can be retrofitted at the end of its service life.
This interview was conducted by Andreas Himmelsbach.