The European sensors house HENSOLDT acquired British radar manufacturer Kelvin Hughes in 2017. This was in recognition of the UK’s global influence in defence and security matters, and the nation’s unique position post-Brexit.
Kelvin Hughes’ history can be traced back to the 18th century and the company has been known for its innovation, agility and integrity. HENSOLDT therefore sought to benefit from synergies associated with Kelvin Hughes’ radar portfolio, and to secure a UK based industrial facility with potential for growth. The acquisition paved the way for targeted investment in HENSOLDT’s UK business in order to bolster and extend the range and depth of its capabilities, capacity and expertise. This better serves the needs of HENSOLDT’s customers and partners in the UK through the deployment of local resources. HENSOLDT UK was formally launched at the DSEI exhibition in London in 2019. Since then an ambitious growth strategy focussed on its UK headquarters in Enfield, has ensured that the UK arm of the business is capable of undertaking the following work on behalf of the wider HENSOLDT group’s capability portfolio:
* Business Development and Sales – close engagement with UK stakeholders to understand requirements and inform solutions
* Proposal generation and management – from expression of interest through request for information (RFI), pre- qualification questionnaire (PQQ), invitation to negotiate / invitation to tender (ITN/ITT) and contract negotiation
* Programme Management and execution – in accordance with Ministry of Defence (MoD) principles and documentary requirements
* System Integration, Systems Test and delivery
* Logistics support
* Engineering and Service support
HENSOLDT is further investing in its UK branch to extend the range of tasks and workshare undertaken locally in the UK. This will include full system and/or sub-assembly design and manufacturing. When necessary, UK-specific product variants will be designed and locally supported to assure UK sovereign operation and support. Last year HENSOLDT became a publicly listed company on the Frankfurt stock exchange. This was a key step in the strategic development of the company which was based on the understanding that value creation will continue to happen both within, and outside, Germany. The UK remains one of the biggest defence markets in the world after Brexit. HENSOLDT aspires to play a larger role in its success in support of the key tenets of HM Government’s Integrated Review of 2021 and the Prosperity Agenda.
Current UK programmes
HENSOLDT provides multiple advanced avionics systems for the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon, contributes core technology and the major sub-systems comprising the aircraft’s CAPTOR-E radar system. HENSOLDT remains in the vanguard of cutting-edge aircraft radar design. This was confirmed last July when the German Government awarded HENSOLDT a significant contract to lead the development of the next generation of radar for its own Eurofighter fleet.
Eurofighter Typhoon, and contributes core technology plus major sub-systems comprising the aircraft’s CAPTOR-E radar system.
Above: HENSOLDT provides mission critical systems for RAF Typhoon
SharpEye – at sea and on land
HENSOLDT has further invested in the SharpEye range of 2D radars and integrated navigation bridge systems (INBS). These systems are used extensively by the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Successes include the fleet-wide Navigation Radar Programme and new builds such as the Tide Class Tanker INBS, River Class OPV and Dreadnought SSBN.
Royal Navy submarine – fitted with Kelvin Hughes radar
Variants of SharpEye radars are also used by a number of UK customers for coastal maritime surveillance, vessel traffic management, offshore security and for counter-drone applications at UK airports.
Above: XPELLER counter-drone system featuring SharpEye radar
Mode 5 IFF
Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) systems allow military platforms to be identified precisely by automatically sending interrogation signals, which are answered by transponders on board friendly units. In June 2017, the MoD awarded a contract to upgrade the IFF systems of 450 aircraft, ships and ground-based air defence systems of the British Armed Forces. This is being rolled out by HENSOLDT in partnership with Leonardo as Team Skytale.
In its own right, HENSOLDT has delivered IFF systems to 42 countries, including the majority of 29 NATO nations and their allies. HENSOLDT has approximately 450 IFF systems under contract for more than 80 different platform types.
Looking ahead – 2021 and beyond
HENSOLDT UK offers a comprehensive portfolio of sensors and systems for missions in all the domains in which the UK Armed Forces and security agencies operate. Some examples are outlined below:
In the Air
Radar and Airborne Mission Systems
HENSOLDT has developed a highly capable and affordable airborne multi-mission surveillance radar, designed for Maritime Patrol Aircraft, helicopters and UAVs. Named PrecISR, it translates the latest achievements in active array and digital receiver technology into a scalable high-performance sensor. PrecISR’s compact design is suitable for use on relatively small aircraft, where space and weight constraints are factors. Due to its software-defined radar modes and electronic beam steering, PrecISR can fulfil different tasks simultaneously. It is able to detect, track and classify more than a thousand objects.
Platform integration is significantly simplified due to its innovative design and the fact that all radar related components are located outside the airframe.
In 2019, HENSOLDT was awarded a contract to deliver a PrecISR system for aircraft conducting maritime surveillance and coastal range safety operations in the UK.
PrecISR, along with other HENSOLDT sensors such as the ARGOS II electro-optical surveillance and tracking system, can be seamlessly integrated into the new Xplorer Mission System, the latest addition to the Avionics product family, in use for many years on board UK aircraft.
Above: PrecISR installation on mission aircraft
Above: Typical PrecISR radar image
Self-Protection and situational awareness for armoured vehicles
The Multifunctional Self-Protection System (MUSS) is a proven and in-service soft kill Active Protection System. MUSS can be designed into the platform’s layered protection, as with the PUMA Infantry Fighting Vehicle, and fully integrated into the platform’s Battlefield Management Information System. Alternatively, it can be fitted as an applique system with a separate operator controller, as demonstrated successfully when fitted to the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank during the UK MEDUSA Project. The See Through Armour System (SETAS®) is an ITAR-free, ruggedized, day and night high performance local area observation system suitable for any type of armoured vehicle. This high-resolution electro optical vision system gives each crew member the possibility to stay securely inside without losing full visual situational awareness, 360° around the vehicle. The modular system accommodates two powerful sensor systems: very high resolution colour daylight cameras and uncooled thermal imagers. The observation capabilities of the SETAS® can be further enhanced by integrated automatic image processing features like Moving Target Indication (MTI), object tracking and much more.
Above: MUSS system installed on Challenger 2 tank
HENSOLDT UK offers a range of radars to meet different operational requirements in the land domain. These include Weapon Location, Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) and battlefield surveillance. HENSOLDT’s solution to counter sophisticated threats posed by modern artillery batteries is based on a layered defence approach. At the heart of this ‘system of systems’ is a weapon location derivative of its highly advanced 3D sensor, TRML-4D. The following diagram illustrates HENSOLDT’s concept by showing each sub-system element in context and how the overall solution operates as a whole.
Above: Weapon location radar concept
Traditionally, active radars have been used for GBAD applications and HENSOLDT offers a highly capable active sensor, TRML-4D. In addition, HENSOLDT offers a truly passive sensor that can be used to augment an active system or replace it when transmissions are not possible.
Above: TRML-4D GBAD radar
HENSOLDT’s TwInvis is the world’s most advanced Passive Radar system and works by utilising the RF broadcast from multiple systems such as FM/DAB radio stations and digital television. TwInvis provides an accurate 3D radar picture out to several hundred kilometres. As there is no antenna rotation, the update rate is a function of the computing power in use and typically provides a refresh rate of less than 1Hertz. Unlike an active radar, TwInvis provides constant accuracy out to the full effective range of the system. This accuracy is sufficient for target indication without risking transmission.
Above: TwInvis Passive Radar
HENSOLDT offers two portable radar solutions for battlefield surveillance:
* SPEXER 360 is based on a rotating antenna housed within a rugged and lightweight radome;
* SPEXER 600 is a compact AESA antenna, designed to detect the smallest of targets at significant range.
Both of these radars are designed and manufactured in HENSOLDT’s Enfield facility and both utilize the latest advances in solid-state electronics and antenna technology.
Above: SPEXER 360
Above: SPEXER 360
Above: SPEXER 600
Mission System Capability
HENSOLDT UK can configure a mission system suitable for all types of vessel ranging from an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) through to a complex auxiliary vessel or frontline warship. This portfolio includes 3D surveillance and target acquisition radars, IFF, electro-optical surveillance and gun fire control, self-protection, electronic warfare and data links. HENSOLDT can provide these capabilities separately, as a sub-system, or as part of a comprehensive Combat Management System, all locally supported by UK personnel.
The Integrated Navigation Bridge System moves on
HENSOLDT UK recently completed the delivery of a fully type approved Kelvin Hughes Integrated Navigation Bridge System (INBS) for Polar-class logistic ship HMNZS Aotearoa for the Royal New Zealand Navy. This is one of the most complex bridge systems delivered by HENSOLDT UK and will be the basis of HENSOLDT UK’s INBS offering for future surface ship programmes in the UK.
Above: HMNZS Aotearoa fitted with Kelvin Hughes INBS
Rohan Dearlove, Business Development Director UK and Ireland, commented: “This year the Government published the Integrated Review which set out the UK’s role in the world over the next 10 years. This was followed by the Defence Command Paper outlining plans to modernise the armed forces to meet the demands of the Review. HENSOLDT UK is now well placed to help the Government meet the challenging requirements that have been set out in those documents. With our ability to draw on top quality products and systems from across the HENSOLDT group, we can ensure that deployed personnel, undertaking operations in challenging conditions, have access to equipment which delivers maximum operational advantage. The Government’s strategic plans ensure the UK’s armed forces are at the forefront of technological development. In this context we recognise the need to assure operational independence whilst at the same time investing in the UK economy. HENSOLDT’s UK strategy delivers on both.”
Photo: Rohan Dearlove