Issue 40 Ring Power’s Armored Door-Kicker Delivery System, The Rook John Schwartze Join the Conversation This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 40 Photos by Q Concepts There are certain practicality and reliability requirements you just won’t get out of standard car and truck platforms no matter how much you modify them. When it comes to high-risk situations, there’s an unusual combination of tasks that one vehicle needs to accomplish, such as accessorizing for specific emergencies on short notice, enough armor to protect against a shootout akin to the ’97 North Hollywood bank robbery, and the ability to deliver or evacuate personnel above the ground floor or in places a conventional vehicle can’t reach. So is there one machine that can serve as troop transport, battering ram, extrication vehicle, and any number of other tactical job duties with the proven reliability of a well-known brand? Well, actually there is. First a little background on the company. Ring Power was founded in 1962 by L.C. Ringhaver as a Caterpillar dealership. In 2006, a local SWAT team member came to the company with the idea to armor a Caterpillar construction vehicle and outfit it with special attachments to assist law enforcement by minimizing their exposure to gunfire. After building a couple versions made to order, by 2011 Ring Power was in full production on its armored critical incident vehicle, also known as the Rook. The driver can see and communicate with officers on the armored deployment platform (seen on next page), which can be detached and left stationary. While you may be familiar with vehicles like a repurposed M706 being used as a battering ram or Lenco BearCats serving as troop transports, there’s really nothing else like the Rook on the market. Armored trucks typically run roughly 120 to 150 psi of ground pressure and can get stuck easily. The Rook yields approximately 5.5 psi on the ground, making it rather light-footed. The track drive enables it to crawl over septic tanks, get into backyards, and reach areas otherwise inaccessible to other dual- or triple-axle tactical vehicles. Operating the Rook is really no different than your typical Caterpillar tractor. Ring Power offers training for anyone in the U.S. who purchases the Rook. The Phoenix Products division of Ring Power transforms the off-the-line skid steer into the bulwark you see here. The cab is cut to their design, given three exits, and up-armored (including the engine compartment) with NIJ Level IV armor and UL9 glass. The system comes with the following attachments: a hydraulic breaching ram, vehicle extrication tool, armored deployment platform, and grapple claw. Because the stock Cat chassis can handle the extra weight of the accessories, no additional modifications to the stock drivetrain are needed. Believe it or not, the amount of ground pressure generated by the Rook is much lower than standard tactical vehicles, enabling it to access areas conventional vehicles can't. The armored deployment platform features a sliding center door, batwing doors on the outer edges, and an independent power supply for lights and cameras. There’s enough room to safely shield four fully armed officers, and it’s equipped with two locking gun ports, four 5×9-inch bulletproof sight ports, and can be detached to remain as a fortified position or be delivered close to potential bomb threats. The Rook can raise the platform 11 feet off the ground for second-story entries, while its cameras transmit feed to the vehicle operator. An armored platform on the rear enables four fully armed officers to safely position themselves behindthe driver. The hydraulic ram also contains cameras, can extend 6 to 10 feet, and easily penetrate block walls, steel-reinforced doors, or be used to just plain tear a house to pieces. A vehicle extraction tool can lift or reposition a car or even drag/push a full-size bus. A grapple claw is mainly used for clearing debris and storm cleanup. Some of the other options available for the Rook include an OC dispenser, integrated night vision, FLIR thermal imaging, wireless remote control, CBRN cab overpressure, chemical warfare detectors, and an explosives mitigation package to name a few. Custom platforms and attachments are also available. A variety of agencies now use the Rook. You may have even seen it televised during the final standoff with Syed Rizwan and Tashfeen Malik when their escape vehicle was cornered on the freeway in the aftermath of the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. Retired sergeant Alex Horcasitas, former operational commander of the tactical team for New Mexico State Police, has participated in quite a few high-risk events where the Rook was used. “It’s one of those few things that came along in all the years I was in SWAT that was truly a game changer. We all looked back and said, ‘How did we ever work without that thing?’ Once we started using it, we found more and more ways it was useful to protect our team members without putting the suspect or our officers in danger,” he says. Horcasitas recalls one particular event where a subject had barricaded himself in a house and hid in the attic area. His department was able to push the Rook’s camera-equipped hydraulic ram through one of the vents to get a visual on where the suspect was. After refusing to surrender, the officers used the ram to lift the side of the roof up, enabling them to fire less-lethal munitions to force the individual to submit. “The Rook has versatility and flexibility. We’ve used BearCats and Rooks; both serve a specific purpose. The BearCat is more of a transport to get the team there and as a last point of cover to put the officers, negotiators, or K9s in front of the house. It’s the workhorse. You can use the Rook to pull off burglar bars, open doors, and use the armored platform in another part of the house, such as the backyard. It has its own lights, video cameras, and once it’s dropped off, the Rook can be used for other tasks rather than just remain stationary,” Horcasitas says. Cost for a fully loaded unit with every option (including a trailer) is $570,000. Included in the price for buyers located in the U.S. is training on how to operate the vehicle. If you have any familiarity with the two-joystick system of a regular skid steer, you’re already ahead of the game. It's hard to believe that a common construction implement could be adapted to perform so many tasks first responders often find themselves in, but the Rook definitely pays for itself in safety and practicality. We can’t help but fantasize on what Ring Power would do to tactically overhaul a Cat 797F mining truck. Even though they have no plans to build such a vehicle, one can still dream. In the meantime, we think the Rook is quite the instrument to have if you’re in the business of saving lives. RING POWER ROOK Powertrain: Two-speed 9.4 mph Width: 78 inches Ground Pressure: 5 psi Fuel Tank: 24.8 gallons Bucket Pin Height at Maximum Lift: 125.1 inches Horsepower: 95 Weight: 14,030 pounds (machine only) – Caterpillar chassis – Hydraulic quick coupler – Enclosed ROPS cab with AC/heater – Dual level suspension undercarriage, self leveling, advanced machine information and controls system – NIJ Level IV armor Attachments – Armored deployment platform with integrated wireless video system – Hydraulic breaching ram with integrated video system – Vehicle extraction tool – Grapple claw – Plus custom 25×8-foot gooseneck trailer with additional 5-foot dovetail loading ramp Optional Equipment & Upgrades at Additional Cost – O.C. dispenser for hydraulic breaching ram – Integrated night vision – FLIR thermal imaging – Tactical breaching tools mounted to platform – LED Light Bar Package – Wireless feed with wrist-mounted monitors for team Base Price: $570,000 (fully loaded) URL: www.ringpower.com Explore RECOILweb:Short Barreled SAINTs from Springfield ArmoryMini-Me: Dead Air Sandman E-BrakeFour US Military Working Dogs to Receive Medals of CourageMarine Raiders to Carry 9mm Glock NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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