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By Julian Nettlefold

17 Mar 10. The cutting edge of force protection – industry showcases present and future technologies

Cutting edge armoured vehicles, counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) robots, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and blood transport units are all on display at a major event to mark National Science and Engineering Week.

The event, organised by the Defence Industries Council (DIC) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is part of an annual series of events celebrating science, engineering and technology. The event gives an insight into current technologies being deployed in support of the Armed Forces, as well as a forward look at the scientific innovations which may one day add to the current impressive range of tools affording military personnel a battle-winning edge.

National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) is a ten day programme of science, engineering and technology events and activities across the UK aimed at people of all ages, now in its 17th year. National Science and Engineering Week is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and works in partnership with Engineering UK.

Opening the event at Yeomanry House in London, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies said: “Today’s event celebrates the vital work of scientists, engineers and inventors who have helped cement the UK’s position as a world leader in science and research. Their discoveries are reaping benefits for the Armed Forces and civil society, helping to improve and protect lives.”

Industry exhibitors at the event are joined by Armed Forces personnel who are already benefiting from the latest cutting edge technologies in the field. These included personnel from 29 EOD and Search Group and RAF UAV specialists, who recently combined ground technology and UAVs in Afghanistan to continually guard against threats such as IEDs.

Rear Admiral Rees Ward (Rtd), Chief Executive Officer of Aerospace, Defence and Security and Secretary of the Defence Industries Council, said: “This event is an excellent opportunity for the defence industry and the Ministry of Defence to demonstrate how we are working together to use the best of British innovation and technology to provide the best possible protection to our armed forces. We also hope that young people reading about the high-quality, high-tech kit on display will be enthused and encouraged to get involved in science, technology and engineering an go on to pursue successful careers in the industry.

“The ‘Defence Matters Campaign’ which has worked with the Ministry of Defence in organising this event, aims to inform people around the UK about the contribution the defence industry makes not just in terms of supporting our Armed Forces with the best equipment and service support available but also in terms of its economic contribution. The defence industry is a provider of over 300,000 high-value engineering jobs across all regions of the country, in companies of all sizes, a small number of whom we see represented here today. I’d like to thank those companies who have made the effort to come and take part in this exhibition; many of the technologies they have put on display are state-of-the-art and the Armed Forces deserve nothing less.”

Rees Ward emphasised that the U.K. has more SMEs than France and Germany combined. However, given current Procurement Policies in buying offshore, the natural progression, without a strong Prime Contractor base, is for the SME base to shrink, with the subsequent job losses.

Every year the UK Defence sector recruits many hundreds of science and engineering graduates. The MOD has a 13,000 strong workforce of engineers and scientists – forming the Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG). These specialists are involved at every stage from the research and development of new technologies through to their procurement and readiness for the front line. In

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