TOOLS OF ENGAGEMENT
HAVE A LOOK AT THE ROOK. RING POWER’S ARMORED DOOR-KICKER DELIVERY SYSTEM
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.
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.
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.
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 5x9-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.
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
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.
1 The driver can see and communicate with officers on the armored deployment platform (seen on next page), which can be detached and left stationary.1
2 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.2
3 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.3
4 An armored platform on the rear enables four fully armed officers to safely position themselves behind the driver.4