For many motorists, going on the road poses very few threats other than the occasional road rage or reckless driver. However, for a select few, there is a far more significant risk on the road: that of an armed attack.
For individuals that worry about that threat regularly, thankfully there is a solution in the form of vehicle armoring. Armoring vehicles protects its occupants against aggressive threats, allowing them to survive the attack and escape to safety.
This kind of modification for a vehicle is not cheap, however it significantly improves one’s chances of survival as opposed to an unarmed vehicle.
We were fortunate enough to get a closer look at what goes into armoring a vehicle thanks to once such company, Hi-Protect Armored Cars.
Hi-Protect Armored Cars can take any vehicle bought from any showroom in the Philippines and equip it with the proper protection to survive an armed attack. They currently offer Level B4 and Level B6 protection as these are typically the most requested.
The vehicle in particular is a Level B6 bulletproof Ford Ranger pickup. The level denotes the amount of armoring it is fitted with, according to European standards. These range from Level 1 to as high as Level 8.
We’ll jump straight to Levels B4 and B6 as these offer the most significant protection to survive an attack.
Level B4 protection can withstand bullets fired from handguns. These can range from a 9 mm round to something as powerful as a bullet from a 44 Magnum.
Level B6 protection can withstand bullets from handguns as well as from larger assault rifles. These can range from .45 rounds, to 5.56, to as large as a 7.62 round from an AK47 or a .308 bullet from a sniper rifle.
As one can surmise, Level 6 is quite high on the ladder. Aside from protection for the occupants, it also includes protection for the vehicle’s vital components, run-flat tires, as well as protection from grenades and possible Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
“Normally, our clients are those who are facing a threat. They're worried they may be attacked or their kids may be kidnapped,” said Miko S. Yap, a consultant for the company.
Even the interior does not appear to be heavily modified.
This Ford Ranger is a showcase vehicle for Hi-Protect. The company chose the Ranger to show clients that Hi-Protect can easily outfit even a new model that was just launched a few months ago. It's also not easy to armor a modern vehicle like the Ford Ranger with all its various high-tech features, none the less Hi-Protect has chosen this vehicle to prove it can maintain all of a vehicle’s advanced features.
It may not look that special, and that’s because it is intentional. When armoring a vehicle, the goal is to make it look and perform like your average, off-the-shelf Ford Ranger pickup without armor protection. The armoring features are designed to be discreet so that potential attackers are not aware it has extra protection and possibly escalate their attack tactics.
How does it work?
The vehicle's touchscreens and electronics are all fully functional.
As you can guess, fitting armor while still allowing many of its high-tech features to work can be quite the challenge.
Armoring typically takes 30 days from when the vehicle is delivered to Hi-Protect. If it’s a new model, the team at Hi-Protect need a little more time in order to properly install the armoring.
As the name suggests, armoring adds a lot of additional weight to the vehicle. After all, the protection needs to be made from thick and heavy material in order to stop high caliber bullets.
Standard windows are replaced with thicker, protective glass, while still retaining the power window functions.
To keep the armoring discreet, it is added in between the body panels and the interior fittings. This involves removing significant parts of the vehicle, fitting the armoring, and reinstalling the external panels and interior. At Hi-Protect’s request, we won’t go into the details of the thickness of the armor or what kind of materials used. Suffice to say, it’s serious stuff that is capable of withstanding a sustained attack.
The modifications can go from 800-kg to as much as two-metric tons depending on the armoring requested. As such, Hi-Protect also installs upgrades to the suspension system and brakes in order to cope with the added weight.
Vital engine components are also protected.
Higher armor levels even add protection around vital engine components like the battery, radiator, ECU, portions of the engine, and even the fuel tank.
Even the tires aren’t spared. They’re fitted with run-flat systems inside the tire itself, to allow the vehicle to still roll even after the tire has been shot at and blown out.
All these are intended to allow the vehicle and its occupants to escape a potentially threatening situation and avoid serious injury or even death.
Despite the addition of armor, the only difference customers will notice are the thicker glass panels and reinforced frames around the windows. This is to protect passengers from weak spots around the window frames.
And of course, the vehicle will feel heavier than before. Not to worry as the beefed-up suspension and brakes are also upgraded to handle it.
The radiator is protected while still allowing it to continue its cooling functions.
The price for all this? An additional P2 to P4 million (on top of the price of the car) and depending on the level of protection.
Besides armoring, Hi-Protect can also handle the regular preventive maintenance service requirements of these vehicles. After all, installing all of this additional reinforcement will void a vehicle’s warranty.
Granted, this price can definitely be daunting for some, which is Hi-Protect urges clients to truly carefully consider this option.
“If you really need protection, don't scrimp on the price. A life is on the line. The price determines the quality of the build and materials. We've had several clients come to us to redo poor work done by other companies to meet a budget,” said Yap.
Is it worth it?
Despite the armoring, the Ford Ranger's spacious interior is still retained.
Hi-Protect already has a lengthy list of repeat customers. Most of these customers come back with a newer model of their favorite armored SUV or van. They’re only too happy that the armoring was there to protect them when they needed it most. Toyota Land Cruisers and HiAces are the most frequent request, however Hi-Protect will be glad to examine and quote your vehicle if it is out of the ordinary. They’ve outfitted everything from a Mini SUV to vehicles as large as a Mini-Bus.
It might sound expensive, but isn’t your life and that of your loved ones priceless?
For more information, visit http://www.hiprotectarmoredcars.com/ or find them on Facebook.