FIST – ENABLING THE BRITISH ARMY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
By Adam Baddely
With an announcement as to whether Thales or BAE Systems have won the Assessment Phase (AP) of Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme due at the end of the month, BATTLESPACE looks at the two industry solutions and teams and the issues involved in the next step.
The Dismounted Close Combat Integrated Project Team (IPT) reviewed the bids 13 to 24 January, first BAE Systems and then Thales. Work for these two submissions were funded in two £250,000 Planning Phase contracts, which were awarded in August in competition with Marconi Mobile and Raytheon Systems Ltd. The Defence Procurement Agency have now had time to review their findings with their recommendations being sent up for review by the IAB (Investment Approvals Board) on the 10 February. This is expected to take roughly a week with a final political decision determining the outcome. The announcement for FIST was given a 10% date for 8 February a 50% for 17 February but people now see a decision to be announced by the end of the month and probably March. This decision will see a £15m award covering the Assessment Phase until Main Gate due in late 2006. The goal is to deliver an Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in 2009 comprising a trained brigade with roll out due to be completed in 2012, in time for the IOC of the improved FIST 2, followed by FIST 3 from 2015. It is once FIST 3 is completed, at 2020, that the ‘FIST’ solution will be deemed complete.
Partners and teaming
Thales has four current members to its team: HVR undertaking Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisal and risk management work; SDE Lethality, looking at the area of lethality and safety issues; Bates Associates, which because of the founder’s role in the former Crusader 21 programme, is unsurprisingly looking at clothing issues and Unipart, already a partner on Thales Optronics’ Battle Group Thermal Imaging (BGTI) contract, is supporting Thales’ work on logistics. A fifth company, a consultant rather than a partner, Sigma, is being used to oversee relationships between the customer and industry to ensure good relationships, necessary to over such a long term contract as FIST.
Some have suggested that Saft could be the fifth partner. Saft were given a speaking slot at the Thales supplier conference, leading to suggestion that the French energy company had already been effectively selected for the role. This is something the Thales FIST team strongly denies.
BAE Systems have not made any firm teaming relationships. They have previously made agreements with Sagem to work together should they both be selected for FIST and France’s FELIN (Fantassin à Équipements et Liaisons Intégrés) programmes respectively. The FELIN proposals from Sagem and Thales GIAT are due to be submitted in February with a decision by the DGA planned for later this Summer. BAE Systems, somewhat theatrically, demonstrated their relationship with Computing Sciences Corporation (CSC) at WBR’s Soldier Technology 2002.
The role of Sagem in BAE Systems plan is interesting. At a FIST briefing by BAE Systems in January they believed that, because of Thales’ expected success in FELIN, it was inconceivable that if Thales were awarded the next phase of the FIST contract two entirely separate teams would be established in the UK and France. Inevitably, they believe, the intellectual capital for FIST would end up in France, which was bad for UK plc (and BAE of course).
Both companies have as part of their solution undertaken Supplier Conferences to establish potential sources of equipment.
As a consequence of sparse Equipment Capability Customer (ECC) funding FIST numbers have dropped from 35,000 to 29-30,000 over the past year. BAE Systems put the value of the Development and Manufacture of FIST 1 at £485m with the cost of whole life support at £1450m from 2007-2020. The cost of FIST 1 overall i