Force Protection nears deal to sell new vehicle to UK

The Ocelet lightweight armored vehicle.

A European subsidiary of Ladson-based Force Protection Inc. has been named the "preferred bidder" in a deal to provide British armed forces with its new Ocelot lightweight armored vehicle.

The company said formal contract negotiations will begin shortly between Force Protection Europe Ltd. and the U.K. Ministry of Defence to determine the number of orders and prices.

The Ocelots will be built in the United Kingdom. The first batch of vehicles is expected to be available for the training of U.K. armed forces in 2011.

"Internationally, Ocelot is expected to play a much larger role in providing potential customers a vehicle that incorporates not only a high degree of blast and ballistic protection but also superior mobility and maintainability — these levels are currently unequaled by any vehicle of its size on the battlefield," Force Protection chief executive Michael Moody said in a written statement today. "As such, we expect there could be significant demand for the Ocelot in the worldwide marketplace for years to come."

Force Protection developed the Ocelet with Ricardo plc.

The vehicle has an approximate gross weight of 16,500 pounds and its design includes a protective pod made of advanced composite materials that incorporate Formula One racing technology. Critical components such as the engine, fuel tank and transmission, are housed beneath the passengers in a V-shaped armored spine that deflects any potential blast away from the vehicle and occupants.