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28 Dec 06. Britain’s ground troops are to get a fleet of hi-tech new bomb disposal robots, under a £65M contract, Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson announced today.

The advanced capabilities provided by the remote controlled robots means they can deal with many more devices than the existing system, giving further protection to bomb disposal operators and civilians.

Known as CUTLASS, the six-wheeled remote controlled robots will replace the iconic ‘Wheelbarrow’ robots which have been used since the 1970s, when they were first used by bomb disposal operators in Northern Ireland.

Faster, nimbler, better powered and able to use a wider range of bomb disposal ‘weapons’, CUTLASS will incorporate the latest computer technology to ensure troops can operate more effectively – better protecting lives and property.

Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson said: “This is good news for our troops and good news for industry. It demonstrates the considerable expertise available from British engineers to support the UK’s efforts to defeat terrorism. The availability of technology to the terrorist has altered the complexity of the explosive devices we face and how they are being used. Once in service CUTLASS will provide an essential capability for those brave men and women who conduct bomb disposal activities, and who put their lives at risk in order to ensure the safety of civilians and their comrades on operations abroad and at home in the UK.”

CUTLASS uses modern robotics technology to provide a highly versatile bomb disposal capability. It has excellent mobility across a range of terrain and is equipped with a highly dextrous manipulator arm. It will enable specially trained soldiers, known as Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs), to render safe Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at a distance.

Under the contract the MoD will get 80 of the vehicles with a phased introduction into service beginning at the end of the decade.

Northrop Grumman through its Remotec UK subsidiary, which is teamed with QinetiQ, has been appointed prime contractor for Phase II of MOD CUTLASS robotics programme. The CUTLASS programme will provide the next generation of unmanned ground vehicle for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) to be used by the MOD for anti-terrorism operations worldwide. The bulk of deliveries will take place in 2010.

Prior to the CUTLASS programme, Northrop Grumman through its Remotec subsidiary in the UK was, for more than ten years, the sole supplier to the MoD of the Wheelbarrow-class bomb disposal robot. Northrop Grumman has more than 2,000 unmanned ground vehicles in operation worldwide.

Remotec is a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman with locations in Coventry, UK and Clinton, Tenn. in the United States. Remotec is an industry leader in developing and manufacturing unmanned ground vehicle systems for police, military, and industrial applications in more than 52 countries worldwide. Northrop Grumman in the UK operates from five primary locations: Fareham, Coventry, New Malden, Peterborough and Solihull providing avionics, communications, electronic warfare systems, marine navigation systems, robotics, C4I and mission planning, IT systems and software development. Northrop Grumman established its UK corporate office in London in early 2006.

“Thirty years of experience has gone into the UK MOD’s research and development efforts in the field of robotics for conventional munitions disposal and improvised explosive device disposal. QinetiQ is delighted to be teamed with Northrop Grumman for the delivery of the CUTLASS programme,” commented Fiona Lewinton, managing director for QinetiQ’s land division. “Our vast experience has enabled us to make significant technical contributions in the supply of the Command and Control sub-systems for the overall CUTLASS system.”

The CUTLASS system offers the latest technology in a modular design, enabling the user to deal with the full range of both military a

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