Darley and Ford Partner to Develop Data-Driven Tactical Command Vehicle
The first four-wheel-drive Bronco tactical command vehicle, loaded with highly customized communications technologies, was donated by Ford to the National Park Service in Bandelier National Monument in northern New Mexico. (Photos courtesy of W.S. Darley and Company)

By Alan M. Petrillo

W.S. Darley and Company has partnered with Ford to develop a tactical command vehicle based on the new Ford Bronco platform.

Peter Darley, Darley’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, says the tactical command vehicle is based on a 2023 Ford Bronco Badlands 4×4 with a Sasquatch off-road package, powered by a six-cylinder gasoline engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Wheelbase on the rig is 116 inches, overall length is 189 inches, and overall height is 74 inches.

“This highly customized, data-driven tactical command vehicle will help connect wildland firefighters on a scene with specialized technologies, including LTE (Long Term Evolution) communications blending, a mesh network to extend communications for flexible coverage, satellite communications while on the move in remote areas, and an in-vehicle power system consisting of a lithium energy module with an AC inverter,” Darley says.

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The Bronco was provided to the National Park Service at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Bandelier National Monument June 28. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley and Company)

The new tactical command vehicle also features edge computing through Artificial Intelligence and cloud software, high power interactive tablet touch devices, first responder and asset tracking through tracking and accountability software, a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drone quadcopter for situational awareness, video streaming for real time transfer of data from assets in the field to the vehicle, and a modular roof rack system with a winch and other special features, Darley points out.

The Bronco tactical command vehicle was donated by Ford through its Bronco Wild Fund endowment to the National Park Service (NPS) in Bandelier National Monument to help protect the monument in northern New Mexico.

The cab interior on the new Darley Ford Bronco tactical command vehicle. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley and Company)

“It will allow NPS firefighters to communicate more effectively and coordinate their efforts more efficiently when responding to wildfire risks in Bandelier National Monument,” Darley observes. “The vehicle’s mobile command center serves as a reliable command and communications hub to conduct operations.”

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Kevin Sofen, Darley technology innovation specialist, pointed out that it was critical to Darley’s staff and engineers that they create a platform that is resilient and offers enhanced communications capabilities. “Wildland firefighters and disaster area first responders have a lot on their task list, so we designed the system to ensure they can maintain constant communications no matter where they are in the country, without worrying about which network is working,” he says.

“This tactical command vehicle can be used anywhere, any time,” he says, “especially in areas where communications are a problem. The technology on this vehicle eliminates that issue, and that same technology can be added to any type of vehicle.”

Some of the specialized technologies on the rig include LTE communications blending, a mesh network to extend communications, satellite communications, and an in-vehicle lithium energy module power system. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley and Company)

Dave Rivers, Ford’s enthusiast brand manager, says “We know that wildfires are a growing threat, and we are committed to doing our part to help communities stay safe. This donation is just one example of how we are working to support wildland firefighting efforts.”

Darley adds that his company is currently working with Ford on a second wildland tactical command vehicle built on the Bronco platform.

Author

  • ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.

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Topics

W.S. Darley and Company has partnered with Ford to develop a tactical command vehicle based on the new Ford Bronco platform. Peter Darley, Darley's executive vice president and chief operating officer, says the tactical command vehicle is based on a 2023 Ford Bronco Badlands 4x4 with a Sasquatch off-road package, powered by a six-cylinder gasoline engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Wheelbase on the rig is 116 inches, overall length is 189 inches, and overall height is 74 inches.

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