UK defence industry boosted by £500 million global F-35 support deal

The UK’s role as a leading partner on the global F-35 programme has received another significant boost as the F-35 avionic and aircraft component repair hub in North Wales was awarded a second major assignment of work worth some £500M by the US Department of Defense.

Following the announcement in 2016 that the UK would be the location of the global repair hub for the initial tranche of F-35 components, news of this award sees significantly more UK support work to the cutting-edge jets.

This latest deal will support hundreds of additional F-35 jobs in the UK – many of them at the MOD’s Defence & Electronics Components Agency (DECA) at MOD Sealand, where the majority of the work will be carried out.

It will see essential maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for an even wider range of F-35 avionic, electronic and electrical systems for hundreds of F-35 aircraft based globally.

The winning solution builds on the innovative joint venture formed between the MOD (DECA), BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman called Sealand Support Services Ltd (SSSL). SSSL support work and services for F-35 are scheduled to commence from 2020.

Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of the MOD’s procurement agency, Defence Equipment and Support, said: “In winning this work, the UK has demonstrated how the MOD can collaborate effectively with industry bringing together a highly skilled and experienced workforce to offer an innovative and best value support solution for the benefit of F-35 partners.

“The UK also benefits from a long-term commitment to the F-35 programme and its unique defence relationship with the US. Together with our partners from DECA, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, SSSL will be able to offer the F-35 programme engineering excellence, world-class innovation and agility.”

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Army Basing Programme hits key milestone in Wiltshire

The Army Basing Programme has reached a significant milestone with the completion and handover of the first Service Family Accommodation (SFA) for families moving to Wiltshire in 2019.

A ribbon cutting event was held at The Plumer Estate, Ludgershall in early February to mark the first of 917 houses being delivered under the Army Basing Programme (ABP), which are being built across three sites in Ludgershall (242 homes), Bulford (225 homes) and Larkhill (450 homes).

The ceremony marked the rapid progress made since the contract was awarded to Lovell Partnerships Ltd in November 2017 with the homes being constructed in record timescales.

In addition to these new homes, there has been major investment ‘behind the wire’ with the provision of Single Living Accommodation, new and improved technical, office, catering, retail and leisure facilities to ensure our soldiers live, work and train in the best possible environment.

Speaking after the ribbon cutting, Major General Wardlaw said: “It was a privilege to showcase the delivery of these brand new modern homes that will allow our Service families to live in first-class facilities. The completion and handover of these homes since contract award is a significant achievement for the Army Basing Programme and will benefit our families across Salisbury Plain.

“It is also testament to the excellent collaborative working partnership between the ABP, Wiltshire Council, DIO and our trusted and valued contractor Lovell. Team work is at the heart of the Army Basing Programme and enables successes like this to take place.”

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Defence Secretary sets out global vision for UK’s defence

The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has set out his vision for the future role of the UK’s Armed Forces following Britain’s exit from the European Union in a speech at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

In his speech, Mr Williamson recognised the current threats facing the UK including competing powers, hostile states and stateless ideologies operating in a ‘grey zone’ between war and peace.

He claimed it is crucial that Britain’s Armed Forces and defence infrastructure are ready to meet these challenges and do not stand still as the world moves forward, making a raft of announcements to support that goal.

To support this aspiration, the Defence Secretary announced new strategic assets that will allow Britain to meet the global challenges the future might hold.

Two new Littoral Strike Groups are to be created. Complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters, one would be based to the East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based to the West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic.

To compliment these groups, there will be a Warfighting Division with troops able to deploy from our bases at home and in Germany. This will all ensure we have a global force, capable of deploying around the world in a matter of days.

The Defence Secretary also revealed that HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational mission will include the Mediterranean, Middle East and the Pacific with British and American F35s embedded in her air wing.

The RAF will also grow the number of Typhoon squadrons from five to seven – equipping them with world leading radar and upgraded deep strike Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

Mr Williamson also committed to use the Transformation Fund to develop swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing the enemy and overwhelming their air defences.

He said: “The UK is a global power with truly global interests. A nation with the fifth biggest economy on the planet. A nation with the world’s fifth biggest Defence budget and the second largest Defence exporter. And since the new Global Great Game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared to compete for our interests and our values far, far from home.”

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Supply Chain Engagement at DPRTE 2019

DPRTE 2019 – the UK’s premier defence procurement event – is taking place at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre on 28th March 2019. The event gives the defence supply chain a unique opportunity to connect directly with prime contractors in its dedicated Supply Chain Engagement Zone.

As outlined within the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, The MOD are committed to enabling SMEs and non-traditional suppliers to bid for defence and security contracts more easily.

In the MOD report ‘Industry for Defence and a Prosperous Britain: Refreshing Defence Industrial Policy’, current Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that the MOD would continue to spend with SMEs. The report states that the goal is to place 25% of direct and indirect defence procurement spend with SMEs by 2020.

One important element in order to achieve this, is through the MOD working with their Prime Contractors, in order to maximise opportunities for the marketplace place through transparency of supply chain competition.

The Supply Chain Engagement Transfer Zone at DPRTE 2019 brings together many of the key Prime Contractors that are currently engaged within the delivery of MOD projects, allowing visitors to book appointments for 1-2-1 meetings.

Understanding how prime contractors engage with the supply chain is vital to ensure your business can benefit from the MOD’s ambition.

The Supply Chain & Partnering Knowledge Transfer Zone will provide attendees with the chance to hear directly from prime contracting and supporting organisations such as Airbus, Boeing and DxC Technology as to how they can engage and actively pursue new business development opportunities across the wider supply chain.

Delegates can also visit the Supply Chain & Partnering Zone, which will see some of the Prime Contractors deliver sessions on supply chain opportunities available on current/future projects.

The zone will feature a highly anticipated session from the Crown Commercial Service in collaboration with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

Also appearing will be Defence Contracts International (DCI) Marketing Manager David Young, who will talk about ‘Accessing International Opportunities’; while Jon White, Sales Director Europe at GE Aviation, will discuss ‘Supply Chain Opportunities With GE Aviation’.

Ruth Todd, Commercial Director of the MOD’s Submarine Delivery Agency, will also deliver a session on supply chain management.

To discuss sponsorship or exhibition opportunities at DPRTE please contact the team today 0845 270 7066 or

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Canada’s Combat Ship team secures design contract

Canada’s Combat Ship Team has been awarded the Canadian Surface Combatant design contract by Canadian Surface Combatant prime contractor, Irving Shipbuilding.

BAE Systems, CAE, Lockheed Martin Canada, L3 Technologies, MDA and Ultra Electronics partnered as Canada’s Combat Ship Team to offer the Royal Canadian Navy the most advanced and modern warship design, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, with high-tech platform innovations from prominent Canadian companies. The deal will see the Team build all 15 ships at Halifax Shipyard.

Canada’s Combat Ship team employs a combined 9,000 Canadians in 40 facilities from coast to coast and engages a Canadian supply chain of more than 4,000 small and medium sized enterprises. The team also secured several additional partners, including Rolls-Royce with its Canadian-designed and manufactured Mission Bay Handling System that will enable adaptability for the ships’ operations.

The Type 26 Global Combat Ship is a globally deployable multi-role warship that meets the distinctive mission requirements of the Royal Canadian Navy. It is enhanced with the team’s collective Canadian naval expertise in combat system design, integration, training, logistics and program management.

Purposely designed for high-end anti-submarine warfare and capable of performing a variety of missions around the world, the Type 26 is acoustically quiet, versatile, highly survivable, and allows for significant growth margins for future modernisation.

Anne Healey, General Manager – Canada, BAE Systems commented: “We are delighted to be part of Canada’s Combat Ship Team that has been awarded the Canadian Surface Combatant design contract.  We believe that the Type 26 Global Combat Ship is the right solution for Canada, combining Canada’s trusted Combat Management System with the world’s most advanced warship design and bringing together a pan-Canadian team with a proven track record and current capability to perform complex defence projects.”

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Defence Secretary visits new UK Hydrographic Office headquarters

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has visited the new Taunton headquarters of UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) to commend its staff on vital contributions to Defence, UK Government and economic growth around the world.

Mr Williamson met with UKHO staff to talk about its role in supporting maritime navigation, safety, security and marine development around the UK and worldwide, and was given a tour of its new office.

As a leading hydrographic office and marine geospatial information agency, the UKHO plays a critical role in supporting the UK government’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and in fulfilling the Government’s obligation to provide navigational charts and publications to ships transiting UK waters.

Working with several UK and international partners, the UKHO also undertakes work under government programmes such as the Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme and the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme to improve global standards in safety, hydrography and navigation. This includes collecting and processing marine geospatial data to help governments protect the environment, develop infrastructure and support disaster planning and resilience.

The Defence Secretary said: “For 200 years UKHO has been central to trade and commerce across the globe, supplying over 90% of the world’s ships with the products they need to navigate international waters safely.

“The UKHO embodies the spirit of a Global Britain – sharing the UK’s world leading expertise to develop relationships and trade with partners around the world. With 95% of the UK’s trade carried by sea, the work done at this facility is vital to not only supporting safety of our ships but supporting the UK’s thriving ocean economy.”

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First of 56 DE&S-procured bomb disposal robots arrive in Britain

In late December 2018 Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson revealed that, following a period of rigorous testing, the British Army had taken receipt of its first four cutting-edge bomb disposal robots. 

This was a major milestone for the £55 million contract which, once fulfilled, will see 56 Harris-manufactured bomb disposal robots delivered to the British Armed Forces. 

The robots in question – the T7 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) – utilise high-definition cameras, ‘lightning-fast’ datalinks, an adjustable manipulation arm and durable all-terrain treads to neutralise a wide variety of explosive threats. 

Initially, the T7 model was procured by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the Ministry of Defence, as part of Project Starter. The deal was announced in September 2017 during the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London. 

Project Starter has since placed an order for 56 Harris T7s in support of the military’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams. In doing so, the MOD hopes to retire the British Army’s existing fleet of Wheelbarrow Mk8B remote-controlled EOD robots which have been in use across the globe by UK Armed Forces since 1972. 

DPRTE Official Partner: DE&S

For Lieutenant Colonel Thornton Daryl Hirst, Section Head of Remote Controlled Vehicles within DE&S’ Special Projects Search and Countermeasures team, this was welcome news. He said: “The first four production standard vehicles have been delivered early to the British Army, enabling us to conduct train-the-trainer packages from January onwards. The hard work and dedication of my team has helped ensure that this critical project has run to time and cost and the trials exceeded our performance expectations.” 

Previously, the T7 endured eight weeks of ‘acceptance’ trials at specific sites across the UK and US, during which the robots were put through their paces. Trials included multi-terrain driving, battlefield missions, weightlifting and dexterity-related assignments, climatic and vibration testing, high stress capabilities, live-firings, maximum traversing angles and interoperability assessments. 

According to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson: “These robots will go on to be an essential piece of kit, preventing harm to innocent civilians and the brave operators who make explosives safe. The robots will provide the Army with the latest bomb-disposal technology and will prove to be trusted companions both on UK streets and in deadly conflict zones.” 

Colonel Zac Scott, Head of the Defence EOD & Search Branch, added: “Remote Control Vehicles (RCVs) are critical to the safe conduct of Explosive Ordnance Disposal tasks. The Harris T7 harnesses cutting-edge technology to provide EOD operators with unprecedented levels of mobility and dexterity. It represents a step-change in capability for our Service personnel and it will save lives.” 

The Harris T7 employs ‘advanced haptic feedback’ which enables operators to ‘feel’ their way through the intricate process of disarming an explosive from a safe distance, protecting UK soldiers from threats such as roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices). 

This haptic feedback function is designed to provide operators with dexterity on par with a human hand as they manipulate the robot’s mechanical arm using a remote-controlled grip. Crucially, the T7 also gives the operator physical feedback, allowing intuitive and precise control. 

According to Ed Zoiss, President of Harris Electronic Systems, the MOD’s endorsement of T7 – itself a relatively new model – is only the tip of the iceberg. “T7’s selection by the UK MOD represents the first of many opportunities for Harris to deliver lifesaving technology to warfighters and law enforcement personnel worldwide,” said Zoiss. 

All 56 robots are due to be delivered to the UK and enter into service by December 2020.

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Danish Military selects Marshall for communications contract

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has been chosen by the Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation (DALO) to deliver advanced communications and network containers as part of its programme to update the Danish Armed Forces deployable infrastructure.

Marshall will provide more than 40 containers as part of this multi-million pound contract, which will also see the Company fit out the units to meet the operational requirement and give on-call support as required by the Danish Armed Forces.

The Network and Communications containers will be supplied with air conditioning, electrical power distribution and fitted with a full suite of intruder and EMC protection assets. Internally, the containers will be fitted with computer, communications, and network equipment.

Alistair McPhee, Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, said: “As part of our strategy for growth we are increasing our focus on exports. This contract demonstrates that we are on the right road especially as the award is based on our technical competence and pricing structure against a range of international competitors.

“We have had a long running relationship with the Danish Defence Forces going back to 1996 when they selected us to provide maintenance services for their C-130 Hercules aircraft. This was further extended in 2013 in a ground breaking collaborative support contract in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Air Force.”

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High-G training and test facility opens at RAF Cranwell

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, has opened the new High-G training and test facility at RAF Cranwell.

The £44m project is used by fast jet pilots in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to replicate flight in aircraft such as the Hawk, Typhoon and new F-35 Lightning aircraft. Pilots are able to experience up to 9G – nine times the normal gravitational pull of the Earth – and learn how to use their specialist in-cockpit flying equipment to help them cope with these stresses. The centrifuge can accelerate up to 9G in one second and rotate up to 34 times a minute.

The new facility revolutionises High-G training as pilots are not simply strapped into the device and exposed to G-force but are able to ‘fly’ as they would in a flight simulator as the pilot manoeuvres the aircraft and applies the G-force.

Pilots benefit from a cockpit which closely represents that of their normal aircraft enabling them to conduct a plethora of training scenarios from air-to-air combat to dealing with in-bound missile threats.

The pilots will refresh their training at least every five years to keep them as safe as possible and current in the techniques used to handle High-G forces in flight.

The device will also be used to trial and test new equipment to be used on fast jet aircraft and by the pilots. This will also ensure that the testing is done in a benign environment before being trialled in live flight.

The RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine is using the facility to train aircrew to recognise the effects of G-force, develop awareness of it and learn the physical techniques needed to counter the effects on their bodies during combat missions. Up to 300 aircrew will receive training on the centrifuge each year.

Director Air Support at DE&S, Richard Murray said: “This new and exciting facility is replacing the High-G trainer which until recently was used by Defence; that dates from the 1950s and no longer matches the performance of the modern fast jet aircraft such as the F-35 and Typhoon.

“The centrifuge is capable of accelerating up to 9-G in just one second, but rather than just sitting in it, the replica, flyable cockpit delivers realistic and immersive training, helping to simulate real-life missions while teaching pilots to deal with acceleration and High G-forces.”

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Babcock secures Royal Navy equipment and information contract

Babcock International has been awarded a configuration management contract by the Ministry of Defence for the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) surface ship fleet.

Supported by Allan Webb Ltd – who will provide specialist data interrogation skills – this four year contract, with potential extensions, will see Babcock assume responsibility for the Surface Ship Definition Database (SSDD), a tool used for the management of platform related data. Operation of the Master Record Data Centre (ships) (MRDC[Ships]), the core facility for ship information configuration services, will deliver major activities including:

  • Equipment ship fit configuration;
  • Ship datum document configuration; and
  • Defect report management via the Surface Ship Equipment Data Record.

The work of the MRDC (Ships) will contribute to ensuring that the necessary systems and equipment – including the associated maintenance and spares information – are available when and where they are required to meet RN and RFA demand.

The SSDD interfaces with numerous MOD systems enabling Babcock to efficiently deliver a holistic, surface ship management solution. Over the course of the contract, tangible benefits will be evident on existing programmes and new builds, including the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers with Babcock embedding and, where necessary, upgrading existing data management systems to aid through-life support programmes.

Babcock’s Data Centre near Bristol will host the specialist applications. Benefitting from strong supply chain collaborations, delivery of the MRDC (Ships) service will be driven from the core configuration team in Portsmouth with Babcock and Allan Webb staff co-located for essential skills integration across this important contract.

Simon Knight, Naval Engineering Director at Babcock said: “Babcock’s expert teams will support the delivery of first-rate support to our customer across this contract.

“We have been working closely with the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence to support its critical assets for decades and we look forward to continuing this strong relationship.”

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