The armor panels are inside the front doors and don't change the vehicle's exterior appearance. They use a similar combination of a ceramic plate and aramid fabric as Ford's currently optional door protection, which can handle handgun rounds and non-armor piercing bullets up to .30 caliber. For this stronger application, the Blue Oval changes some things like using a tighter weave for the fabric, Ford spokesperson Chris Terry tells Autoblog. The plates add "more than 80 pounds" to each door, he said.
"Officers globally told us they needed protection from armor piercing ammunition and we added increased ballistic protection to an already great product," Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer of Ford Police Interceptors, said in the new option's announcement.
According to Terry, Ford will open orders for the armor-piercing bullet protection on March 15. He estimates the price "in the $1,000 range" but said costs can vary depending on the size of a police force's order. The Blue Oval also offers its current armored door panels as a retrofit option for the vehicles, and Terry believes that's a possibility for the new parts, too.
• US Department of Justice standard Type IV specifies protection against armor-piercing .30 caliber rifle ammunition
• First pursuit rated police vehicle to offer Type IV ballistic panels in the United States
• Optional ballistic panels are in addition to the long list of existing safety features available on the Ford Police Interceptor sedan and utility
DEARBORN, Mich., March 10, 2016 – Ford announced today it will offer ballistic panels on their Police Interceptor sedan and utility with protection from armor-piercing rifle ammunition.
"Ford is well-known in the police community for going further to enhance officer safety. It's what our product is all about, first and foremost," said Raj Sarkar, general marketing manager, Ford North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing operations.
The factory-equipped vehicles are the first pursuit-rated police vehicles in the United States to offer ballistic protection up to Department of Justice's (DoJ) National Institute of Justice standard Type IV.
According to the Department of Justice standard, the description of a Type IV ballistic panel is:
"Type IV hard armor or plate inserts shall be tested in a conditioned state with .30 caliber armor piercing (AP) bullets (U.S. Military designation M2 AP) with a specified mass of 10.8 g (166 gr) and a velocity of 878 m/s ± 9.1 m/s (2880 ft/s ± 30 ft/s)."
While the number of shootouts between police and criminals using high-powered, armor-piercing rifle ammunition is low, they are unfortunately becoming more common.
"The fact that we design our Police Interceptors around officer feedback is what has made them number one. Officers globally told us they needed protection from armor piercing ammunition and we added increased ballistic protection to an already great product – that's continuous innovation," said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer, Ford Police Interceptors.
The Type IV panels are an additional option above and beyond existing ballistic panel protection offered by Ford.
Optional Type III ballistic panels are already on duty in agencies around the United States and are rated to protect against all handgun and non-armor piercing bullets up to .30 caliber (specifically up to 7.62mm x 51mm NATO M80 ball ammunition) as well as special threat rounds identified by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The optional ballistic panels are in addition to a long list of existing features aimed at protecting officers, including Ford Police Interceptor safety cell construction to aid structural integrity.
In the event of a crash, advanced safety technology helps to absorb the energy of the collision and to direct the impact forces away from the occupants. Additionally, crumple zones are strategically placed in the frame or body of the vehicle, further absorbing and dissipating the energy of a crash to reduce intrusion into the occupant compartment.
Innovative materials – such as aluminum, advanced plastics and boron steel – also contribute to vehicle strength.
Other examples of Ford's commitment to officer safety include a 75-mph rear crash test rating, police-tuned suspensions, police brakes, steel wheels, unique police interiors as well as a range of upfit options.
For more information on Ford Police Interceptor, visit the Ford Police Interceptor site.