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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold visited Mass Consultants at their Lincolnshire office; Mass is the Defence company of the Silicon Valley Group Plc. The company showed the Editor its growing expertise in a number of areas including, Information Systems Security, Electronic Warfare, Communications & Crypto and the design through to manufacture of Specialist Electronic Systems.

MASS is rapidly developing its EW Operational Support business area and has just opened a large new office in Lincoln to provide a centre of excellence for this important activity. The new office is initially providing support to UK export sales of integrated defensive aids systems in association with Selex, mainly for airborne platforms but will soon have the capacity to support all types of platforms in the future. In addition, MASS can offer support to overseas EW customers’ systems as well as providing training courses in Electronic Warfare.

A large proportion of MASS business is centred on Communications, with particular strengths in the design and development of systems and cryptography, and a long record of research and development. MASS has a well-established track record of delivering across the whole spectrum of communications design – from initial technical studies right through to low volume production and in-service support. The company is also knowledgeable in the CESG accreditation process, having recently achieved HIGH accreditation for its encryptor and fill gun.

One of the systems MASS has developed is the Automatic, Tasking, Relay and Acknowledgement System (ATRACKS). ATRACKS was designed, developed and manufactured entirely in-house in record time to meet an operational requirement for the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force. As part of this project, MASS designed a specialist HF/VHF Modem and a bespoke Pritchel Encryptor and Fill Gun, both accredited to HIGH grade. Some 1450 individual line items were manufactured, assembled into complete systems and tested over the full environmental spectrum – demonstrating the capability of the company for low-volume production. In addition, the full software application, which controls the entire network and provides the user interfaces, was also written completely in-house. ATRACKS is now fully accepted into service.

“The ATRACKS contract gave us the expertise and capability to develop our fledgling communications system segment which is now an excellent adjunct to MASS’s growing Specialist Electronics capability. The contract proved that we can develop complex systems involving security accreditation and qualification for flight on time and within budget for our customers,” said Dr Ray Ayres, Managing Director of Mass Consultants Ltd

MASS has developed a particular expertise in the area of Specialist Electronics with specific skills in airborne communications systems. The company is currently developing a Radio Control & Audio Distribution System (RCADS) for a specific UK air platform. This may develop into a larger project to upgrade the radio suite and entire internal communications systems.

Other communications systems projects that MASS is involved with include ITT Defense UK – Design and delivery into service of a Radio Control and Display Unit (RCDU) for the Bowman Air Radio system; ITT Defense UK – development work for a re-configurable encryption module to allow interoperability between UK Bowman and US JTRS radios; OFCOM – Technical studies using MASS skills in RF analysis, particularly man-made noise studies; Home Office – Study work for the Police. Additionally, the company, in conjunction with VT Group, has developed built the TRAP performance analysis system for use on the Royal Navy’s Sandown mine hunters.

Mass is one of the growing band of consultants specialising in niche areas of the defence systems market, we will be visiting the company at DSEI on stand No 823.

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