New industry leaders partner with Team Tempest to deliver next generation aircraft

Seven new companies will collaborate with Team Tempest, the pioneering alliance delivering cutting edge technology for a new generation of combat air power.

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DPRTE Engage partner DIO to oversee new funding for improvements to troops’ accommodation

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have announced that thousands of UK Armed Forces families across the UK will have their housing and accommodation improved and renovated thanks to nearly £200 million of new Government funding.

On a joint visit to Catterick Garrison, the Ministers chatted to soldiers about the ways the improvements will help them. Over 5,000 personnel, plus their families will have homes modernised with new kitchens, bathrooms and furnishings including re-roofing to reduce the risk of mould and damp.

DPRTE Engage event partner,The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), supports the UK Armed Forces to enable military capability by planning, building, maintaining and servicing the infrastructure they need to live work, train and deploy.

As part of the funding injection 3,500 service homes will be upgraded as well as single living quarters. This will improve life for UK Armed Forces personnel deployed at home and abroad to keep the nation safe, including in the fight to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The work will also make UK Armed Forces estates more environmentally friendly. New windows and doors will provide better insulation, energy efficient boilers will drive down bills, and solar panels and electric vehicle charging points will reduce the carbon footprint.

Families with young children will benefit from new play areas, roads will be resurfaced and energy efficient street lighting will help modernise sites as part of the funding.

The Defence Secretary invited the Chancellor to Catterick Garrison, which will benefit from investment in Service Family Accommodation, to announce the news.

Mr Wallace said: “Our Armed Forces work incredibly hard to keep our nation safe, and so it is only right that they have a place they feel proud to call home.

“From introducing a generous Forces Help to Buy scheme to piloting a new rented accommodation model, we have made enormous steps in recent years to offer flexible housing for a modern workforce.

“This latest investment will benefit thousands of our personnel and their families, providing the standard of living they deserve.”

Improving accommodation and facilities across military estates will also be part of bold new plans, including replacing 30 WW2 accommodation blocks in Longmoor, Pirbright, Westdown, Knook, Nesscliffe, Castlemartin Camps and providing new accommodation for on-call personnel in Northern Ireland.

The investment is expected to sustain around 2,000 jobs through the work on housing improvements including plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators. This will be delivered through the existing National Housing Prime contract. Upgrades will begin in late summer and will be delivered over a period of two years.

Mr Sunak commented: “Day in, day out, our Armed Forces make huge personal sacrifices for our country, and it is our duty to ensure they have the best conditions possible.

“This news doesn’t just mean service homes across the country will be upgraded, but will see 2,000 jobs in sectors where they are needed the most, like plumbing and decorating – delivering our Plan for Jobs.”

Over the last four years £530-million has been invested in improvements to Service Family Accommodation. The additional £200-million funding package will continue to improve the standard of both homes for Service families and single living accommodation on military bases.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation supports the UK Armed Forces to enable military capability by planning, building, maintaining and servicing the infrastructure they need to live work, train and deploy.

DIO are official DPRTE Engage Online event partners. This year event is set to feature for the first time, an Infrastructure and Estates Pavilion, which will allow both buyers and suppliers to connect with key Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) personnel and gain an insight into the latest initiatives, developments and opportunities within defence infrastructure.

Official DPRTE Engage Partner: DIO

For those companies looking to engage with the infrastructure marketplace, the DIO-supported Infrastructure and Estates Pavilion will allow both buyers and suppliers to connect with key DIO personnel and gain an insight into the latest initiatives, developments and opportunities within defence infrastructure.

The Pavilion will also include a Knowledge Transfer Zone, which will see a range of topical educational and interactive sessions designed specifically to enhance attendees’ knowledge and ability to contribute to the future direction and delivery of the ongoing defence infrastructure and estates procurement programme.

The speakers include a number of leading experts from DIO and the wider defence infrastructure marketplace, including DIO’s Commercial Director Jacqui Rock.

Don’t miss out on the chance to visit DIO’s the Infrastructure & Estates Pavilion and hear from leading experts in infrastructure on how to do business with DIO. Book now at www.drpte.co.uk/book-now/

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Viasat and Cyber1st to support UK sovereign Crypto growth capabilities

 Viasat UK has announced an agreement to collaborate with cyber solutions provider, Cyber1st, to deliver secure voice and data capabilities globally to commercial customers, governments, and on an exclusive basis to the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and wider defence users.

The agreement further focuses on future crypto solution collaboration to help protect integrated networks from a wide variety of threat vectors. The Viasat UK/Cyber1st relationship builds on established UK sovereign footprints and will leverage the combined team talents for wider global exports in support of the UK prosperity agenda.

“We are excited by the opportunity to deliver advanced security and information assurance solutions to UK MOD and global defence and civilian networks,” said Steve Beeching, managing director, Government Systems, Viasat UK Ltd. “Our extensive track record of innovation teamed with Cyber1st’s solutions can help advance crypto capabilities and provide the information protection needed to make voice and data services secure for our nation and customers.”

Viasat UK is advancing its secure networking capabilities in country. It is both building a sovereign Network and Cyber Security Operations Centre to provide premier cybersecurity services aimed at mitigating against advanced cyber-attacks and creating capabilities to secure mobile devices from the edge to the cloud. Additionally, Viasat UK can leverage Viasat Inc.’s position of being the only company to support Type 1 network encryption for both Layer 2 Ethernet Security Specification (ESS)/Ethernet Data Encryption-Cryptographic Interoperability Specification (EDE-CIS) and Layer 3 High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryption (HAIPETM).

Bob Edge, Director of Cyber1st commented, “We are delighted to work closely with Viasat UK as this creates a sovereign, highly-synergistic relationship leveraging our combined engineering skills along with Viasat’s long-term vision with respect to Data in Transit and Data at Rest solutions. Viasat will enable Cyber1st to focus on its core High Grade Crypt-Key competences with the confidence that emerging requirements have been fully-qualified through a process of rationalised customer engagement.”

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Defence Secretary addresses the Air and Space Power Conference

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recently gave a speech at the Air and Space Power Conference outlining the air and space power in an age of constant competition. Here, Defence Online provides the edited highlights…

“The people of our armed forces have always been our greatest asset but we must think about what comes next. The global picture has changed. Threats are coming from all different angles.

“Nor are they necessarily hard power dangers. Today we’re facing Corona virus tomorrow it could be a high-level cyber strike. It’s clear the binary distinctions between peace and war have disappeared. Our adversaries now wear many masks. They know we’re dependent on IT. They know that Information Advantage is key. They know globalisation makes us more vulnerable. So there’s a danger our competitors will use proxies and new technologies to outflank us.

“That means asking ourselves what the air and space environment of 2030, 2040 or even 2050 will look like. How will we operate? How will we fight? What are the attitudes? What are the ranges? What are the altitudes? What are sunset and sunrise capabilities that we need in the battle-space of tomorrow? What will be the role of our aircraft?

“More particularly what will the role of our air and space forces be in the world of constant competition?

“We need to think carefully about the threats and opportunities we face in the new domains of warfare such as cyber a theme that runs right through this conference.

“Even in the midst of Covid, our adversaries have continued using social media tools to spread malicious misinformation and muddy the narrative.

“If we’re to attain information advantage we must work out how we can be as nimble as our rivals.

“Acting at pace in an era when disruptive capability is advancing exponentially through the aggressive application of machine learning, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

“That’s why we’ve just signed a £65-million contract for the production of our first ground breaking Protector aircraft.

“It’s a major gear shift replacing Reaper with PROTECTOR, a remotely piloted aircraft with an incredible endurance which gives us global reach. It is due to be in service by 2024

“As we look towards tomorrow we must also understand the new parameters we’re operating in.

“What is the philosophy of this new battle-space?

“The doctrine of these new domains is embryonic and evolving rapidly so what are the new rules?

“What sort of kit will we need? What sort of people do we require? What should our aspirations be?

“Our opponents are constantly seeking to go higher, faster and further.

“We know they’ve got thermobaric weapons. We know they are developing hypersonic glide vehicles. We know UAVs and deep strike pose us a lethal threat, however, dispersed your forces are.We know increasing numbers of actors have the ability to hit us with precision and at range.

“And we know, all the while, that Russia and China are developing offensive weapons in space a major cause for concern given that satellites don’t just provide our global communications, critical intelligence, and surveillance and navigation but underpin our critical national infrastructure from mobile phones, to cashpoints, to the stock market.

“That’s why, in the future, what’s above you will be often more important than what’s in front of you.

“But if we’re to prepare ourselves properly for the fight I need you to understand the High Command’s intention and your role in it and your role as a consequence.

“I’m not just looking to you to keep up the excellent delivery in operations I also want you to provide me with excellent military advice.

“Don’t try to second guess intentions from Head Office; instead give me a true perspective. Tell me what the options are and outline the alternatives.

“You’re asking government to commit to your vision so paint a picture for me of the future battlespace. That’s the only way I can make the right decisions about our Future Combat Air Systems

“What’s already clear to me is that we’re no longer in the business of relying on one fighter, or on one type of aircraft that can do one thing. You will need to defend, police, control and command the battlespace. That requires multi-role capabilities

“But it also requires greater integration between the services. One question I know you’re already asking is how can you integrate your new Poseidon with the submarine service to disrupt Russian underwater activities? But where and how else can we speed up integration?

“Developing my understanding of your vision for air and space will be vital as we head towards the Integrated Review (IR)

“While not wishing to prejudice the IR, I see this as a unique moment to repurpose UK Armed Forces and the RAF for an era of constant competition.

“An opportunity to ensure your future structures and capabilities are relevant and sustainable in a security environment that demands proactive, campaigning mindsets.

“That demands we deter threats and size opportunities every single day instead of holding capabilities in readiness for a ‘rainy day’.

“We need to do things differently, moving on from a joint force to an integrated force, with every asset and capability we have, seamlessly, in real time, with our partners and allies, to hold our adversaries to risk.

“I have a vision of UK defence, where we’re able to join the dots between space, air, surface and sub-surface, so that the sum of the parts means much more than the value of the individual parts, and where we can do this in real time at the time and place of our choosing.

“That requires a rebalancing from Industrial Age to Information Age capabilities – investing in cyber, space, electronic warfare, AI, robotics and autonomy – coupled with their integration with the best of what already exists.

“It goes without saying that you have an important role to play in all of this. Mastering the airspace and new domains of the future will ultimately depend on your skills and your ingenuity.

“But the RAF gets it. You put people first. I see that not only in the way you utilise the talents of your Whole Force – blending the skills of Reservist and Regulars. Not only in the way you encourage flexible working to meet the needs of families. But in the way you embed your values into everything you do. Values of clarity, persistence and resilience under pressure.

“Values of innovation, imagination and ingenuity. Values that have elevated our air men and women since the days of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Blending of Regulars and Reservists, flexibly.

“So have confidence in your values. Keep asking the right questions. Keep giving me that sage advice

“Keep maintaining the daredevil spirit and I guarantee you will inspire defence and the country as a whole to go higher, faster and further than we’ve ever gone before.”

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MOD signs £65 million contract for first three Protector aircraft

A £65 million contract to build the UK’s first three Protector aircraft, the first UK operated system capable of strike missions anywhere in the world, has been signed.

After a successful development phase Protector is set to enter service by mid-2024, meaning that the Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) will deliver a step-change in capability for the RAF.

Protector is the world’s first certified RPAS, enabling it to fly in busy, unsegregated airspace, including civilian airspace, thanks to its ground-breaking ‘detect and avoid’ technology.

The contract was announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace at the virtual 2020 Air and Space Power Conference.

Mr Wallace said: “The UK is proving once again that we are a world leader in defence technology. Protector will provide the RAF with vast global reach, meeting the UK’s defence and security needs for decades to come, and provides another increase to the unmanned inventory for the Armed Forces.

“This aircraft will upgrade a whole range of lethal capabilities allowing us to control, protect and manage the battlespace from the air for hours on end.”

The cutting-edge aircraft, which will replace the current Reaper RPAS force, will be deployed in wide-ranging Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations from its base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.

Its ability to fly consistently for up to 40 hours will offer the RAF vastly improved armed intelligence and reconnaissance sorties.

The innovative fleet will also have advanced anti-icing and lightning protection, providing the RAF with unprecedented flexibility to operate in extreme weather conditions.

Protector also comes with enhanced data links and will carry next-generation, low collateral, precision strike weapons – the UK-made Brimstone missile (MBDA) and Paveway IV Laser Guided Bomb (Raytheon UK).

The contract follows a successful development phase by manufacturers General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. which will build the first three Protector aircraft, plus three ground control stations and other associated support equipment.

It also includes an option to build 13 more aircraft and four ground control stations, which will complete the current planned fleet of 16 aircraft, more than doubling the capability currently provided by Reaper.

Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment and Support, said: “I am delighted to announce that we have got Protector production on contract. The DE&S team have demonstrated their remarkable resilience and overcome considerable challenges to ensure this significant programme remained on track.

“Their efforts and the collaborative commitment from industry means that the RAF can still look forward to the delivery of the cutting-edge Protector and the step-change in capability that it brings.”

Meeting stringent NATO and UK safety certification standards, the aircraft could, if requested, operate in civilian airspace to support civilian agencies in the UK, for example, in search and rescue and disaster response missions.

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QinetiQ secures deal to scope upgrade to Royal Canadian Air Force ranges

QinetiQ has been awarded a one-year contract, with an additional option year, by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Air Warfare Centre to develop a roadmap for the modernisation of RCAF Air Weapons ranges, which will enable the combination of live and virtual environments for collaborative team training.

The modernised air ranges will be able to accommodate Canada’s next generation of 4.5 or 5th Generation fighter aircraft and allow for the creation of Live Synthetic Blended (LSB) training and experimental environments, including simulated training assets.

The roadmap for the modernisation will include the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) as well as the Bagotville, Gagetown, Wainwright, Valcartier, Nanoose and Suffield training ranges. The study will look at how the RCAF ranges need to be modernized for all future RCAF platforms – fighter and cargo aircraft, helicopters, search & rescue and remotely piloted air systems. This will be done in the context of the RCAF Modelling and Simulation Environment (RMSE), including the Virtual Proving Grounds*, and will consider air traffic control, air weapons and air and space control simulators.

The initial scoping phase will run through to December 2020. The project will see QinetiQ bring together a team comprising systems engineers, simulation experts and range experts, as well as experienced ex-military personnel, from QinetiQ in Canada and the UK.

Duane Barry, Vice President Business Development of QinetiQ in Canada, says, “We are delighted to have secured this project to scope the upgrade of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s ranges to a standard required for future Training, Test and Evaluation (TT&E) programs. We were selected as part of the competitive bidding process, due to our extensive experience managing, operating and modernising the UK Ministry of Defence’s ranges. We look forward to combining our unrivalled Test and Evaluation and range experience from the UK with our Canadian team’s local knowledge for the benefit of the Royal Canadian Air Force.”

This contract is strategically important for QinetiQ, as it provides a significant opportunity to deliver key value into the RCAF’s future programs and enables the company to continue to grow its presence in Canada. Winning the contract supports QinetiQ’s strategy to build a global integrated defence and security company that delivers mission-led innovation to customers for defence, security and critical national infrastructure programs across the world.

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BAE Systems reveals ‘factory of the future’

BAE Systems have revealed a new intelligent, smart factory that the Company envisage will increase productivity and revolutionise combat aircraft production in the UK.

A first-of-its-kind industry 4.0 factory is applying game-changing digital technologies to advance manufacturing on the UK’s next generation combat aircraft system, Tempest.

The new facility at BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire, is the result of a multi-million pound investment and collaboration with more than 40 blue chip and SME companies along with academic institutions. Harnessing the best of UK innovation, the Company has developed a digitally connected, intelligent factory for future military aircraft production.

Bringing together advanced manufacturing technologies, the factory will transform engineering processes. Automated robots, virtual and augmented reality will increase speed, precision and efficiencies, as well as reduce the costs associated with the manufacture of complex military aircraft structures.

The factory also demonstrates a new approach to the way humans and machines can operate together. Cobotic and flexible robotic technologies remove the need for heavy, fixed, long-lead tooling and can quickly switch from the manufacture of one item or platform to another. Intelligent machines and off-the-shelf robotic technology from the automotive industry have been modified to operate at the precise tolerances required for military aircraft, which are less than a third the width of a human hair on some of our programmes.

Such technology drives greater productivity by allowing operators to focus on more highly-skilled and strategic tasks and production managers to oversee operations from a fully digitised, virtual office.

The new facility underpins efforts of the UK-led Tempest programme to meet the UK’s ambition to remain at the forefront of the Combat Air sector by delivering more cost-effectively and in half the time of previous programmes.

Dave Holmes, Manufacturing Director for BAE Systems Air, said: “We’ve collaborated with the best of UK industry and academia to develop a cutting-edge facility that combines current and emerging technologies, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of combat air technology development.

“Driving our manufacturing capabilities forward as we prepare for the fourth Industrial Revolution, will sustain and develop critical skillsets and ensure we can continue to deliver military capability to address future threats, whilst improving productivity and delivering value for money for our customers.”

Technologies inside the factory are already delivering benefits. The intelligent workstation, developed in collaboration with The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Fairfield Control Systems, is in use on the Typhoon production line. It uses a system which recognises operators and automatically delivers tailored instructions using ‘pick by light’ technologies. In addition, additive manufacturing technologies are being used in the production of Typhoon aircraft parts and assemblies.

BAE Systems are an official Prime Contractor Partner at DPRTE Engage Online 2020.

They will take their place at the event’s Prime Contractor and Supply Chain Engagement Zone, which will bring together many of the key Prime Contractors currently engaged within the delivery of MOD projects.

Book your place today and join over 1,500 key decision makers at this hugely important virtual one-day event – https://www.dprte.co.uk/book-now/

Defence Online is the official media partner of DPRTE 2020

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Government announce major investment for GB-EU border

The Government has announced an £705 million funding package in 20/21 for border infrastructure, jobs and technology to ensure GB border systems are fully operational when the UK takes back control of its border after the end of the transition period.

The new funding will include up to £470 million to build the port and inland infrastructure needed to ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls, and take the UK’s border facilities to the next level. The government is taking exceptional action to build new border infrastructure inland where there is no space at ports. Where ports have space to build on site they will get one-off financial support to ensure the right infrastructure is in place.

The government has been intensively engaging with industry in recent months to ensure that the processes we introduce and the infrastructure we develop is fit for purpose, and that they are ready to manage changes and capitalise on opportunities at the end of the transition period.

Today’s announcement also includes a significant £235 million investment in staffing and IT systems. This includes:

  • £10 million to recruit around 500 more Border Force personnel and £20 million for new equipment so they can continue to keep the country safe and secure;
  • More than £100 million to develop HMRC systems to reduce the burden on traders, alongside additional investment in technology to ensure that new controls can be fully implemented in the “Roll On, Roll Off” environment;
  • £15 million to build new data infrastructure to enhance border management and flow with the intention to create the world’s most effective border by 2025.

This package is on top of the £84 million already provided in grants to ensure there is sufficient capacity in the customs intermediary sector to support traders. This funding will support intermediaries through increased recruitment, training, and by supplying IT equipment to help handle customs declarations.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said: “We are taking back control of our borders, and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare. That is why we are announcing this major package of investment today.

“With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705 million will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.”

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Dstl forecasts future quantum landscape for UK defence and security

The UK’s emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities could achieve a decisive step-change by adopting current and near-term quantum technologies.

According to a research paper published by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and in collaboration with UK Strategic Command “Quantum Information Processing Landscape 2020: Prospects for UK Defence and Security”, embracing quantum technology now could lead to the enhanced pace, precision and pre-emption of decision making by military commanders.

Dstl’s report identified commercially available quantum computers – ‘annealers’ – as having the potential to run an important and versatile class of AI software at speeds vastly in excess of normal digital computers. This software is based on an algorithm called a ‘neural net’; a mature and proven method of pattern-matching, which imposes extremely high loads on a classical digital computer architecture. However, the unique properties of a quantum annealer means that it can execute a neural net in one machine cycle instead of thousands or millions.

The report describes how, in the short-term, quantum neural nets could be used to perform Quantum Information Processing (QIP) to search archive, near real and real-time data feeds, automatically looking for features of interest, detecting anomalies and instances of change. This would significantly improve the time, cost and quantity of military data processing, while simultaneously releasing intellectual capacity among operators.

Over the subsequent 5 to 10 years, within MOD and more widely, QIP technologies could also be applied to: Financial trading; Control systems in aircraft, missiles, fire control and defensive systems; Sensor data processing such as data fusion, navigation, resolving signals in noise, interference and jamming; Machine Learning; Artificial Intelligence situational understanding; Warning marker identification; Pattern analysis undiscernible to the human eye.

Dstl’s report is being released for input and comment from the defence community including industry and academia. After review, key findings and recommendations will be added and the document will be finalised to create an authoritative evidence base to support future investment decisions. Subject to funding, a benchmark exercise could commence during 2020. If benchmarking confirms the review’s findings, an in service initial operating capability could be realised as soon as 2025. This would help build quantum expertise in MOD and ensure an organisation ‘quantum-ready’ for the future.

Although currently maintaining a watching brief on quantum computing, Dstl, supported by funding from MOD, also has a keen interest in quantum sensing technologies. This is realised through a close collaboration with the National Quantum Technologies Programme, a partnership supporting national expertise in this cutting edge technology.

Gary Aitkenhead, Dstl Chief Executive, commented: “Quantum technology is a game-changer for defence and society, and one that both maintains the security of the UK as well as offering clear economic benefits. The UK is a world leader in many aspects of QIP and this report outlines a clear path for future development.”

Dstl are Official Event Partners at DPRTE Engage Online 2020. The event’s Technology and Innovation Knowledge Transfer Zone will bring together some of the leading technology organisations, such as DASA and Dstl, to deliver sessions designed to keep you up to date on defence technology innovations, how to access funding and how you can bring your product to the marketplace.

Dstl’s Division Head for Defence and Security Analysis, Rob Solly, will also be a speaker at the virtual event’s Keynote Arena.

As Dstl’s Division Head for Defence and Security Analysis since April 2015, Mr Solly is responsible for delivering approximately £100M of research and analysis per year. This work is delivered by a broad range of industrial and academic partners as well as Rob’s Division of 600 analysts, human scientists and systems engineers.

Book your place today and join over 1,500 key decision makers at this hugely important virtual event – https://www.dprte.co.uk/book-now/

Defence Online is the official media partner of DPRTE 2020

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Lincad doubles capacity at HQ as part of significant investment programme

Lincad has doubled the capacity at its HQ and production facilities based at Ash Vale in Surrey, UK.

The move comes as part of a significant investment programme by Lincad carried out over the past twelve months and is designed to prepare the manufacturer of bespoke batteries and charging systems for successful and sustained long-term growth.

As part of the wider investment activity, Lincad has tripled its engineering, research and development facilities and increased its PCB manufacturing space. The company has also purchased additional automated cell testing equipment as well as equipment to provide specialist humidity testing, expanding its in-house testing provision and ensuring the continuation of its stringent quality assurance processes.

Janet Rowe, Joint Managing Director of Lincad, said:“Doubling the capacity of our Surrey premises and investing in our battery testing facilities is a significant achievement for Lincad, especially during these economically challenging times.

“Our financial commitment is helping us prepare for our longer-term future, keep pace with current demand and strengthen our position, not just in the military sector that we primarily serve, but across other key industries and areas in which we work.”

The Company is classified as a ‘critical’ supplier to the defence sector and has therefore remained fully operational to support its customers with defence and medical battery production during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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