DIO at DPRTE Engage: Opportunities within defence infrastructure

The annual Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) event, organised by BiP Solutions, sees the defence and security industry come together to allow SMEs to discover their place in the UK’s £20 billion defence marketplace.

This year, due to the impact of COVID-19, the event moved to a virtual platform to become DPRTE Engage Online 2020.

From the event, it was clear that the opportunities available in the defence marketplace are significant, and that improving engagement with the supply chain and driving innovation would continue to be key themes for the defence industry.

In a first for DPRTE, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) hosted the Infrastructure and Estates Pavilion. This allowed both buyers and suppliers to connect with key DIO personnel and gain an insight into the new strategy, including the latest initiatives, developments and opportunities within defence infrastructure.

With an annual spend of around £3 billion on construction and infrastructure services on behalf of its customers, DIO represents a significant opportunity for both current and potential suppliers.

DIO has been undergoing a commercial transformation as it recognises that more needs to be done to enable suppliers of all sizes to benefit from the opportunity it offers. At the heart of this is making it easier for suppliers to work with DIO.

Speaking at DPRTE Engage, DIO’s new Commercial Director, Nick Wilkinson, explained: “What we have seen at this two-year point in the transformation is some significant forward momentum.

“We regularly talk to our supply chain to get feedback and it has been positive. It has helped us to focus on areas that we need to really keep working on but it is also saying we are feeling things differently.”

It is envisaged that making it easier for suppliers to work with DIO will result in an increase in the number of suppliers to defence – creating a wider and deeper economic impact both nationally and regionally.

Last year saw DIO release its Procurement Plan – marking the first time the organisation has outlined its priorities to existing and potential suppliers. The Plan explains how suppliers can navigate the procurement and approvals processes, and what DIO will be buying on behalf of its customers in the coming years.

This includes work to construct new buildings, such as housing and accommodation, and the refurbishment of current facilities as well as services such as catering, waste management and cleaning. Supporting SMEs is integral to the MOD’s goal to meet its target that 25% of procurement spend should go directly and indirectly to SMEs by 2022.

Speaking at DPRTE Engage, the Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin, said that the MOD spend with SMEs has risen to 19.3% in the past year. By making DIO easier to do business with, it is envisaged that this percentage will continue to increase. Approximately 75% of DIO’s Hard Facilities Management spend, which includes support services (estate reporting), management services (waste, sustainability and defect), housing management, and training estate management, already achieves the 25% SME target. It is expected this trend will continue in order to further diversify the supply base and increase resilience.

By listing all the organisation’s major projects and contracts, the DIO Procurement Plan makes it easier for existing and potential suppliers to plan ahead by offering advice on bidding for this work and greater transparency about working with the MOD. These measures will particularly help small businesses, which don’t necessarily have the skills and prior experience of working with the MOD in such areas.

Opportunities outlined in the Procurement Plan include the £1.8 billion Army Basing Programme, the £3.5 billion Defence Estate Optimisation Programme and the £1.6 billion Clyde Infrastructure Programme.

Mr Wilkinson said: “One of the frustrations of all this is that you can’t change the defence estate overnight but absolutely what you should be doing is starting the journey and picking the most high impact programmes to start making that change and making it fast.

“The Defence Estates Optimisation Programme will fundamentally change the face of the defence estate over the coming 20 years or so.  The estate dates back many years and we need to make sure that that state is fit for both what we need it to do now and what we needed to do 20, 30, 40 years into the future.  It really is turning around the proverbial super tanker.

“The great thing about that programme is that it generates income from sites that we no longer need in in the modern estate format for defence and reinvests it elsewhere in the estate to allow us to build state-of-the-art facilities in in various locations around the country to enable us to deliver very high end training living and working establishments.

For example, with the Catterick area in North Yorkshire, there isn’t awful lot of work going on in that site and we’ve been able to reinvest money from around our estate back into a place like Catterick to really make it a centre of excellence for training.”

DIO’s pipeline of work covers a wide range of sectors and there are opportunities for almost all types of businesses in the UK – including SMEs.

While the Major infrastructure Programmes have a focus on construction, Mr Wilkinson is keen to reinforce the maintenance aspect of the Defence Estate.

The other huge part of DIO is maintaining the estate once we have built things. The Hard Facilities Management and Soft Facilities Management contracts are massive and some of the biggest in Europe.

He highlighted the Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) as a fantastic opportunity for suppliers that demonstrated some of the key strides made by the DIO through its commercial transformation journey.

“It is basically all our hard FM work for the whole of the UK – the whole of our estate and associated housing management services and also some work on our training estate.

The whole of the FDIS estate is in the billions and its out to bid now and we’re working very hard on that.”

Prior to DPRTE Engage, DIO released its new strategy outlining the organisation’s long-term vision for the organisation. This new strategy – the DIO Strategy 2020- 2030 – sets out the long-term vision for the organisation. Its aim is to see DIO working with agility and pace to deliver a Defence Estate of the right size, location, and quality that is fit for the future. The Strategy has six strategic recommendations across the three strategic objectives of ‘Outstanding Delivery, Excellent Advice, One Team’.

These strategic recommendations have been developed to grow the organisation beyond the Future DIO’s transformation programme, which was launched in 2016 and provided a platform for the organisation to modernise and transform.

It is envisaged the new recommendations will increase DIO’s focus on its capability to increase customer value and improve organisational performance.

Mr Wilkinson explains: “We are focusing on landing a number of things over the next year, year and a half, which will make a huge difference to us as a team.

“We think we have changed a lot culturally and behaviourally, but we are also landing some very specific projects right now which we believe will make a tangible difference as we continue our journey.”

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Poseidon aircraft arrives at RAF Lossiemouth for the first time

A Royal Air Force Poseidon MRA1 recently landed for the first time at RAF Lossiemouth, the new home of UK maritime patrol operations based in the heart of Moray, Scotland.

Touching down on the newly resurfaced runway, ZP802 named the ‘City of Elgin’ parked outside the brand new £132m facility which houses the pilots, engineers, and personnel who will operate the high-tech submarine hunters.

Nine Poseidon MRA1 aircraft have been ordered, the first of which landed on British soil for the first time in February 2020. Since then, crews from CXX Squadron have been securing the seas over and around the United Kingdom on operational missions. 54 Squadron have also been training new pilots and weapons systems operators on the platform, as 400 additional military personnel will be joining Team Lossie in Moray to fly and operate the nine aircraft.

Poseidon is a hugely capable submarine hunter, able to locate, identify, and track potentially hostile submarines as they operate close to our waters. Its powerful radar is also able to detect and track surface vessels above the waves. It boasts a comprehensive communications suite which means the intelligence it gathers can be passed to commanders whether they are in the air, on a ship, on the ground, or back at RAF Lossiemouth.

Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Chris Layden, said: “Today is a proud moment for Team Lossie, ushering in a new era for the Station delivering combat air power and maritime patrol operations over and around the United Kingdom.

“Yesterday I had the privilege of landing the first Typhoon on our newly resurfaced runways, and today I had the pleasure of welcoming in the first Poseidon to its permanent home in Moray. This is just the beginning of our expansion and modernisation as one of the RAF’s most strategically important Stations in the United Kingdom.”

The £75m programme to resurface RAF Lossiemouth’s runways and operating surfaces began in January 2020, with the work being carried out by VolkerFitzpatrick. The work has involved stripping, strengthening, and resurfacing all of the runways, taxiways and dispersals. From July 2020 both runways were out of use while the intersection was resurfaced, which meant no fixed wing flying could take place. Quick Reaction Alert temporarily moved to Leuchars Station in Fife, with Typhoon training continuing at Kinloss Barracks.

From Friday 16th October, all Typhoon and Poseidon operations including Quick Reaction Alert will be back at their permanent home in Moray. Over £400m is being invested in RAF Lossiemouth to future-proof the Station for years to come, which includes the scoping for the world’s first digital air traffic control tower on a military airfield.

Team Lossie is comprised of over 3,000 people, which includes regular and reserve personnel, civil servants, and contractors. The Moray base is responsible for defending the United Kingdom’s skies and seas with four front-line Typhoon squadrons, as well as CXX Squadron operating the Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft, and 201 Squadron which will re-form in 2021.

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BAE Systems rolls out new platform cyber protection capability

BAE Systems has unveiled a next-generation cyber-threat detection and mitigation solution for US military platforms.

The Fox Shield suite is designed to help platforms detect, respond, and recover from cyber attacks in real time. The system’s cyber resilience capabilities can be integrated into ground, air, and space vehicles to protect our warfighters and platforms from cyber attacks designed to access and degrade mission capabilities.

“Cyber protection was not necessarily a mission-critical capability when some of these platforms were first developed. That’s why we designed the Fox Shield cyber resilience system to be easily integrated into new and legacy platforms,” said Michael Weber, Technical Manager for FAST Labs’ Cyber Technology group at BAE Systems. “Security for our warfighters and their platforms is our mission, and this solution offers valuable protection in the cyber domain.”

The Fox Shield solution is the result of a multi-year effort from BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development team. It was developed with ongoing internal investment and builds upon baseline technology that has proven effective on other platforms as previously announced.

The mature detection capability – technical readiness level eight – enables real-time detection of cyber attacks, enabling the platform and users to respond and recover from their effects and ensuring mission continuity. The detection capability can be implemented on existing platform computer systems or as a stand-alone solution that provides protection while limiting impacts to size, weight, and power constraints.

The Fox Shield cyber resilience suite builds on BAE Systems’ cyber technology portfolio. As part of this program, the company continues to invest in effective response and recovery techniques and has demonstrated proof-of-concept capabilities. Work for the program will take place at the company’s facilities in New Hampshire and Virginia.

image courtesy of BAE Systems

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Runway works reach milestone at RAF Lossiemouth as aircraft return

Work to resurface the runways at RAF Lossiemouth has reached a major milestone with the return of aircraft to the Moray station.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) awarded a £75-million contract for the airfield operating surfaces project to VolkerFitzpatrick in August 2019.

For most of the work, which started in May, aircraft continued to operate from RAF Lossiemouth. However, a short period of relocation was needed while the intersection between the station’s two runways was resurfaced. This started in August and saw the RAF’s new P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft being delivered to nearby Kinloss Barracks and operating from there. RAF Lossiemouth’s Typhoons also operated from Kinloss Barracks as well as Leuchars Station.

Works continued night and day, seven days a week to allow the aircraft and their crews to return to RAF Lossiemouth as soon as possible. As a defence critical project, work also continued despite the difficulties presented by coronavirus, with various safety measures taken to make the site COVID secure.

The first aircraft to land and use the newly-resurfaced intersection was a Typhoon returning from a training sortie on Exercise JOINT WARRIOR, having taken off from Leuchars Station. The return of the Typhoons will shortly be followed by the P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The RAF currently has two P-8As with a further seven on order from manufacturer Boeing. They are submarine hunters which locate and track potentially hostile submarines.

Home to four fast-jet squadrons flying the Typhoon, it has been some time since RAF Lossiemouth has regularly operated a larger aircraft such as the P-8A Poseidon. Resurfacing works are one of many improvements being made, future-proofing the Moray base for years to come. Other improvements include accommodation for personnel, a new Air Traffic Control Tower, upgrades to drainage and electrical supplies, and upgraded facilities for IX (Bomber) Squadron

Russ Liddington, DIO’s Project Manager for the resurfacing works, said: “It is great to see the aircraft return to Lossiemouth and to see the arrival of P-8As is particularly pleasing as it represents a new era in operations from this Station. This significant investment in Scotland introduces a new UK Defence capability and has definitely focused minds and efforts.

“With this important milestone achieved we can now look to complete the remainder of the project works to enable full use of the airfield for future aircraft operations.”

Wing Commander Pete Beckett, Director of the Lossiemouth Development Programme, said: “The partial completion of the new runway surfaces marks a major milestone in upgrades to RAF Lossiemouth’s infrastructure, with the project expected to be complete mid-2021.

“This is a really exciting time for RAF Lossiemouth with further upgrades and improvements planned, ensuring the Station is fit for all of the challenges the future holds. Over £400-million has been invested in Moray, with the creation of around 550 additional military posts, and employment opportunities for many local contractors.”

Station Commander RAF Lossiemouth, Group Captain Chris Layden, said: “It was a privilege to be the first to land on our newly resurfaced runway today. My team have been working exceptionally hard from Leuchars Station and Kinloss Barracks to deliver Typhoon and Poseidon operations, and I am delighted that all our aircraft can now return back to RAF Lossiemouth. We are back in business as a next-generation maritime patrol and fighter station.

“Tomorrow we will welcome the first of our Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft to their new home with Team Lossie. My thanks go to my team, and contractors VolkerFitzpatrick for their hard work in successfully delivering the main runway on time.”

Keith Maplethorpe, VolkerFitzpatrick Development Director, said: “The collaborative efforts of all parties to ensure the continued resurfacing of RAF Lossiemouth is to be applauded. The arrival of the Typhoon onto the intersection was a spectacular sight, and our team will continue to work hard to ensure all remaining sections of the airfield are resurfaced on schedule to allow RAF Lossiemouth to resume its normal duties and operate larger aircrafts from site.”

Work on the remainder of the airfield operating surfaces continues and is expected to be completed next spring.

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Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land awarded £16m Fuchs/Fox contract

The joint venture company Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) has won a Ministry of Defence contract worth over £16 million to upgrade and sustain the British Army’s fleet of Fuchs/Fox CBRN reconnaissance vehicles and training simulator.

The Fuchs is a 6×6 armoured vehicle with built-in detection equipment for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. Rheinmetall possesses longstanding experience and wide-ranging expertise in this high-tech field. Thanks to continuous technical advances and performance upgrades, international users of the CBRN Reconnaissance Fuchs/Fox are able to access the very latest in sensor technology. Just awarded, the modernisation contract see the British MOD utilising Rheinmetall’s experience and abilities to assure the future operational readiness and effectiveness of the UK CBRN Reconnaissance fleet.

RBSL will address equipment-related obsolescence issues and upgrade the system with the latest generation of sensing capabilities. Rheinmetall Landsysteme will be drawing on comprehensive technological support from of its centre of excellence for NBC systems technology in Kassel.

The team will also review safety risks and implement a new support contract that includes technical support, provision of spares and repairs, maintenance, training, and design services. The British Army will thus be benefitting from Rheinmetall’s extensive experience in the field of NBC detection vehicles.

The work will be led out of RBSL’s facility in Telford, West Midlands, with the support of a UK supply chain. The programme is in line with the UK government’s agenda to provide opportunity to SMEs and level up regional economies, as well as to protect skilled jobs in engineering and manufacturing.

RBSL has a highly skilled workforce of more than 450 employees based at sites across the UK, including 250 engineers who specialise in key capabilities such as weapon systems, survivability, and lethality. The RBSL team will use their expertise in vehicle integration technology to upgrade and sustain the fleet. Experts from Rheinmetall Landsysteme will supply the necessary expertise in NBC reconnaissance and detection technology.

The upgrades delivered under the contract will provide an increase in interoperability and commonality with a number of the UK’s NATO partners. The vehicles will also provide the British Army with an advanced ability to detect CBRN threats.

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said: “With the military landscape rapidly changing, it has never been more important to develop our capabilities and continue to strive for innovation and adaptability.

“This impressive contract award is a strong and positive step to evolve our traditional equipment into nimble and ground-breaking technologies.”

Peter Hardisty, RBSL Managing Director, said: “RBSL looks forward to applying our extensive knowledge and experience with armoured vehicles to the Fuchs programme. The contract protects key engineering skills in the UK, it presents an opportunity to exploit new technology, and it provides the British Army with an enhanced capability.”

“This is also a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with Rheinmetall – our majority shareholder and Fuchs Design Authority – and a range of UK SMEs.”

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Raytheon StormBreaker smart weapon approved for fielding on F-15 Eagle

Raytheon Missiles & Defense has announced the StormBreaker smart weapon has been approved for use on the F-15E by the US Air Force’s Air Combat Command.

The fielding decision means that F-15E squadrons can now be equipped with StormBreaker and deployed for missions.

“StormBreaker delivers an unprecedented capability to pilots in the field,” said Paul Ferraro, Vice President of Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s Air Power business. “The weapon gives airmen a significant advantage – the ability to strike maritime or land-based maneuvering targets at range in adverse weather.”

StormBreaker features an innovative multimode seeker that guides the weapon by imaging infrared, millimeter wave radar, and semi-active laser in addition to or with GPS and inertial navigation system guidance.

“The weapon has proven itself in many complex test scenarios, against a variety of targets in extreme environmental conditions, and is now ready to fly,” said Cristy Stagg, StormBreaker program director at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “With its multimode seeker and datalink, StormBreaker will make adverse weather irrelevant.”

StormBreaker’s small size lets fewer aircraft address the same number of targets compared to larger weapons that require multiple jets. It can also fly more than 40 miles to strike mobile targets, reducing the amount of time that aircrews spend in harm’s way.

The smart weapon’s initial fielding on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the US Navy later this year and integration for fielding on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are next for the program.

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New strategic sites monitoring solution developed by Airbus and Earthcube

Airbus has joined forces with Earthcube, a French company specialising in the analysis of geospatial data using Artificial Intelligence (AI), to develop and market “Defence Site Monitoring”, an online solution for strategic site monitoring dedicated to defence actors, combining advanced satellite imagery and AI.

The new “Defence Site Monitoring” solution combines Earthcube’s expertise in the automatic identification of objects with high-resolution images from Airbus‘ 50cm Pléiades satellites and from 2021, using even higher-resolution 30cm imagery from its Pleiades Neo constellation.  The algorithms used are already capable of automatically detecting, identifying and classifying aircraft and ships, both civil and military.

“Airbus is a strategic partner for French and European Armed Forces, serving national sovereignty and providing reliable and secure intelligence solutions. With ‘Defence Site Monitoring”, hundreds of sites of interest will be monitored and analysed daily, thanks to the reactivity and agility of our satellites and Earthcube’s AI algorithms, capable of processing gigabytes of data.” said François Lombard, Director of Intelligence business at Airbus Defence and Space.

“As the European leader in AI data processing, Earthcube’s mission is to work closely with major industrial players who are able to combine their expertise with the excellence of our technology in a logic of ever-increasing added value. We are very proud of “Defence Site Monitoring” and of this partnership with Airbus, which perfectly illustrates this shared ambition,” said Arnaud Guérin, President and co-founder of Earthcube.

Image Analysts can access Defence Site Monitoring via a fully secure area on the Airbus OneAtlas digital platform. They can monitor their areas of interest and receive automated alerts and trend analysis reports.

Through this collaboration, Airbus and Earthcube are demonstrating true European know-how and a capacity to meet the most demanding needs of the intelligence services and our troops engaged in the various theatres of operation.

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CGI OpenSea360 chosen for Royal Navy high-speed patrol craft

CGI has been awarded a contract by Marine Specialised Technology Group to supply the Mission Systems for two state-of-the-art 19.0m high-speed patrol craft for the UK Royal Navy.

CGI OpenSea360 is a Maritime Mission System for sub 24m high-speed craft.  It offers a scalable, open-architecture solution that integrates platform systems, sensors, navigation and communications. Using multi-function displays, it has a user interface that has been proven to enable full use of the system at speed in significant sea states – supporting the 40 knot operational requirement of the craft.

The solution delivers next generation integrated and secure Operational Technology providing enhanced Situational Awareness. The standards-based open architecture delivers an information centric mission capability that promotes military advantage. 

Both boats will be used to patrol HMNB Gibraltar and British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW). 

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “These new vessels will enable the Royal Navy to maintain the security of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and protect British, NATO and Allied ships transiting through the region.

Putting technological advancement at the fore, the vessels enable a step-change for the Gibraltar Squadron providing a larger platform that has improved speed, handling, seakeeping and protection.  The Mission System includes an integrated paperless bridge system and a modern communication and surveillance suite. The craft will be replacing HMS PURSUER and HMS DASHER and will be commissioned into the Royal Navy once fully operational in Gibraltar.

Chris Hurley, Project Manager for Marine Specialised Technology, said: “The selection of CGI OpenSea360 to integrate and manage mission critical information will deliver a step change in capability to the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron.  CGI OpenSea360 is particularly suited to high speed craft operations and will afford the small Command team unprecedented ability to workshare and manage the craft in increasingly high tempo and complex operations.”  

Neil Timms, Senior Vice-President, UK Space, Defence and Intelligence at CGI said: “As the maritime environment becomes increasingly complex and congested it is vital for operators to have the right information in a format they can use in difficult conditions.   CGI OpenSea360 will deliver mission critical information for this important Royal Navy programme alongside our partner Marine Specialised Technology (MST). I believe the design and technologies selected by MST will set the standard for fast patrol boat requirements and we look forward to working with them on this and future projects.”  

CGI OpenSea360 is used in existing Ministry of Defence fast boat programmes and civilian craft.  

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Nominet selected to deliver PSN DNS services for CCS

Nominet has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) PSN Core Services framework to deliver PSN DNS Services (Lot 1).

Nominet will provide a recursive service that is required to handle 15,000 queries per second, as well as both PSN and internet facing authoritative services that are required to handle up to 30,000 zones. Internet queries from the PSN service will also be directed through the Protective Domain Name Service (PDNS), run by Nominet on the NCSC’s behalf, for additional security. PSN is currently used by approximately 500 Government departments.

David Carroll, MD of Nominet NTX said: “Nominet is delighted to be able to offer its resilient DNS service to the PSN. With more than 20 years’ experience at the heart of the internet and unrivalled DNS expertise, it is perfectly placed to offer a solution that is both effective and secure.” 

CCS supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. In 2018/19, CCS helped public sector buyers using CCS commercial agreements to save £945m of public money – supporting world-class public services that offer best value for tax payers.

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Dstl’s new counter-terrorism facility opened by The Queen

The UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has been given a rare Royal visit during the COVID-19 pandemic to showcase the science inside defence and security when Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Cambridge visited its site near Salisbury.

The Queen and The Duke officially opened Dstl’s new £30 million Energetics Analysis Centre. They also met staff who have been providing specialist scientific advice and support to the COVID-19 pandemic and those involved in providing a rapid operational response to the Novichok incident in 2018.

The Energetics Analysis Centre is a state-of-the-art building from which hundreds of scientists conduct world-class research and analysis to give the UK military and security advantage, protecting against terrorist and criminal threats. The expert team’s impact extends across Government, reaching the Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Department for Transport and other agencies.

Hosted by Dstl’s Chief Executive, Gary Aitkenhead, The Queen and The Duke viewed interactive displays and met a number of scientists at a social distance who explained how Dstl’s science and technology keeps the public safe by detecting explosives, helping to identify terrorist networks and analysing vital forensic evidence to help bring those involved in terrorism to justice.

Mr Aitkenhead said: “There is no greater accolade than to have The Queen and The Duke of Cambridge open this extraordinary building, particular during a global pandemic.

“This is testament to Dstl and our people as a proven national asset, not just in forensic science and explosives detection, but across a wide range of scientific fields, including artificial intelligence, cyber and quantum and in doing so providing an advantage to our military and security services. It’s great for us to showcase our work, which benefits us all in the UK, and to be recognised in this way is a great honour.”

A highlight of the visit was a simulation of a forensic explosives investigation by scientists from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL), which is one of several world-leading capabilities found in the Energetics Analysis Centre. FEL provides evidence and expert witness statements to support the British Criminal Justice System on explosives-related cases. This support has been crucial in providing evidence to the courts for numerous terrorist cases including the attacks at Manchester Arena and Parsons Green.

Other elements of the visit included meeting police search dog Max, who is trained using Dstl’s state-of-the-art canine explosives training aids. The Queen and The Duke also saw Dstl’s Linear Accelerator (Linac), an incredibly powerful X-ray machine used for inspecting weapons and munitions. It is the only one of its kind in the UK for use on items containing explosives. The Linac allows the engineers and scientists to see inside explosive objects without disturbing them or taking them apart. It can produce an image through 250mm of steel, with a level of detail smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

During the visit, The Queen and The Duke made a special presentation of the Firmin Sword of Peace to the Army’s Headquarters South West in recognition of its exceptional contribution in support of the city of Salisbury and its communities following the Novichok nerve agent attack in March 2018.

The Headquarters was appointed as the Joint Military Command headquarters responsible for the Defence contribution to the decontamination of multiple sites across the city during the twelve-month operation. During this time they worked exceptionally closely with the Dstl scientists whose scientific expertise was pivotal to the success of the decontamination operation.

Colonel Mike Duff, the Deputy Joint Military Commander for the decontamination operation, who received the Sword on behalf of the headquarters said: “It is a huge honour to receive the Firmin Sword of Peace in recognition of the work done by Headquarters South West. This was a true team effort that would not have been possible without contributions from across Defence, including Dstl, and the local authorities.”

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