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DSEI 2021: Aardvark goes on show

15th September 2021 - 08:30 GMT | by Samuel Beal in London

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DSEI 2021 saw the debut of the RANG-R UGV. (Photo: Aardvark))

New UGV offers possibilities for military logistics, resupply and other missions.

Aardvark used DSEI on 14-17 September to unveil its RANG-R UGV and announce a significant MoU with a Saudi Arabian partner.

Though Aardvark developed RANG-R primarily as a logistics platform, the company maintains that the advanced toolkit and capabilities on the UGV will prove adaptable to match a vast scope of end-user operational requirements, from the military and border forces to firefighters battling bushfires in California and the Australian outback.  

Aardvark CEO David St John-Claire explained that the initial impetus behind developing RANG-R came from existing customers who wanted brawn and resilience in a robust and survivable UGV. 

UGVs and their associated technologies abounded at DSEI this year, but Aardvark remains confident that the sheer scale and versatility of the RANG-R will give it an edge over the competition. 

‘RANG-R has been designed as a logistics platform since day one, it can carry more payload at more pace than any other system out there,’ said Aardvark technical director Stuart St John-Claire. ‘It’s in the top 10 per cent of the vehicles you’ll find here.’

RANG-R is capable of carrying two fully-loaded NATO pallets (total payload capacity of 3,850kg), and it boasts a top speed of 70km/h and a maximum range of 100km without a resupply. It comes with a UAS to provide situational awareness. 

Aardvark believes that the operational ‘Swiss Army knife’ characteristics of RANG-R set it apart from other UGVs. Its modular design means the UGV can be tailored to a wide range of operational scenarios. David St John-Claire noted that a range of customers had shown interest in the platform, from conservationists seeking to protect endangered wildlife from marauding poachers, to police departments in the US navigating ‘active shooter’ scenarios.

‘We’ve created a platform that a customer can paint their own canvas onto,’ he added. 

During DSEI 2021, Aardvark Group signed an MoU for industrial collaboration with Saudi Arabia-based industrial conglomerate Wahaj. Pictured (left to right): Mark Goldsack, Director DIT DSE; David St John-Claire, CEO The Aardvark Group; Dr Jerome Bilet, Director of Strategy & Business Development, Wahaj; and Adam Taylor, FSDS DIT DSO. (Photo: Aardvark Group).

RANG-R also handles traditional UGV missions. These include fraught tasks such as IED clearance but also difficult jobs like frontline logistics. David St John-Claire noted the RANG-R’s self-loading capabilities and survivability would slash human training costs.  

In terms of resilience, RANG-R is battery-operated but with residual and redundant systems on board. If one part of the system fails, others can take over the tasks at hand. 

The versatility of the platform comes from the intense feedback sessions over the last 18 months between end-users and Aardvark in developing the platform. Useful add-on features include USB chargers for forward-deployed operators to charge their mobile phones. 

Asked by Shephard whether RANG-R would be fitted with weapons, both David and Stuart St John-Claire admitted this was beyond the purview of Aardvark — but that if potential buyers wanted to undertake those efforts separately it would be possible.

On 16 September, Aardvark and Riyadh-based industrial conglomerate Saudi Advanced Technologies (Wahaj) announced an MoU, with the support of UK Defence and Security Exports, as the first step towards industrial collaboration. 

Aardvark will provide in-depth technical design and knowledge, while Wahaj will make available its engineering and manufacturing experience and facilities with the intention of delivering the design, manufacture and commercialisation of a broad range of technologies.

This story was updated on 16 September with news of the Saudi MoU.

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