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UK Ministry Of Defence Awards MBDA Networked Weapons Research Contract

Category: Defence Industry

An industrial consortium led by MBDA has been awarded a £4M contract by the UK MoD Research Acquisition Organisation (RAO) for the NEC for Integrated Weapons research programme.

The two-year programme will concentrate on the development of new integrated technology concepts for future strike weapons operating in an NEC (Networked Enabled Capability) environment. The programme represents a key element in delivering the MoD's policy for NEC to deliver timely and precise military effects.

"This programme represents an important step in the development of new technology and concepts for knowledge creation within the UK defence industry and underpins the UK NEC policy to integrate sensors, decision makers and weapons systems for the digitised battlespace. MBDA is committed to achieving technology exploitation and pull-through from the MoD's research programme," said Steve Wadey, MBDA UK MD.

To deliver this programme MBDA has pulled together industry leaders to form a team comprising: Insys, Thales Missile Electronics, BAE SYSTEMS Land Systems, Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems, Cranfield University, Imperial College, Northrup Grumman, Ordnance Technologies and Rockwell Collins. This team approach builds on the discussions within the Guided Weapon Tower of Excellence by bringing together much of the UK guided weapons community. The Guided Weapon Tower of Excellence was set up in 2002 as part of the MoD's initiative for science and technology to establish a collective grouping of MoD and industry which would co-ordinate science and technology research plans in certain high priority areas.

Professor Andrew Baird, Head of RAO and MoD Director Technology Development (DTD) stated: “We are pleased to award this NEC for Integrated Weapons contract to the MBDA-led team. It is vital work that will assist the UK Armed Forces with their future capability to act rapidly, flexibly and to deliver precise and timely military effect. It is also an important demonstration of the MoD's commitment to work with UK Industry to research and sustain world class capabilities in key defence technologies”.

The team will work closely with several MoD departments to monitor objectives and shape the programme in accordance with MoD needs. The two-year programme will focus on advancing technology within the UK supplier base with the rapid advancement of technology readiness.

Central to this approach is the use of the MoD Architectural Framework (MoDAF) to provide an architectural framework to the programme and the development of its integrated technology concepts. The MoDAF aims to provide a rigorous way of specifying systems of systems, and is a key enabler to NEC.

The research programme will focus on four integrated technology concepts in which future strike weapons will both receive and provide important engagement information across the MoD's communications networks to provide enhanced military capability. These four concepts are aimed at addressing: the integration issues of an Adaptable Fuze and Warhead to support the re-targetting of weapons in flight; the introduction of Guidance Integrated Fuzing to improve system effectiveness and to contribute to the battle damage assessment; the investigation of Networked Targeting to reduce targeting times and flexible retargeting of munitions in flight and a Networked Homing Sensor programme to explore improvement of targeting accuracy and cost reduction by fuzing off-board sensor information with the weapon sensor.

Martin Hodgkinson, MBDA Business Director Systems Architecture, stated: "Technology Concepts developed within this research programme will be integrated and tested using MBDA's NEC Weapons Testbed to integrate models, simulations and hardware across a high bandwidth real-time network now in operation between MBDA's sites. This will allow us to explore the capability benefits associated with these new technologies in an NEC context".


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