12 Sep 19. Babcock Team 31 selected as preferred bidder for UK Type 31 frigate programme. Babcock Team 31 has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) as the preferred bidder to deliver its new warships. Led by Babcock, the Aerospace and Defence company, and in partnership with the Thales Group, the T31 general purpose frigate programme will provide the UK Government with a fleet of five ships, at an average production cost of £250 million per ship.
Following a comprehensive competitive process, Arrowhead 140, a capable, adaptable and technology-enabled global frigate will be the UK Royal Navy’s newest class of warships, with the first ship scheduled for launch in 2023.
At its height the programme will maximise a workforce of around 1250 highly- skilled roles in multiple locations throughout the UK, with around 150 new technical apprenticeships likely to be developed. The work is expected to support an additional 1250 roles within the wider UK supply chain.
With Babcock’s Rosyth facility as the central integration site, the solution provides value for money and squarely supports the principles of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. It builds on the knowledge and expertise developed during the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier modular build programme.
The announcement follows a competitive design phase where Babcock Team 31 was chosen alongside two other consortia to respond to the UK MOD’s requirements.
Work on the fleet of five ships will begin immediately following formal contract award later this financial year, with detailed design work to start now and manufacture commencing in 2021 and concluding in 2027.
Archie Bethel, CEO Babcock said: “It has been a tough competition and we are absolutely delighted that Arrowhead 140 has been recognised as offering the best design, build and delivery solution for the UK’s Royal Navy Type 31 frigates. Driven by innovation and backed by experience and heritage, Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. It provides a flexible, adaptable platform that delivers value for money and supports the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.”
Arrowhead 140 will offer the Royal Navy a new class of ship with a proven ability to deliver a range of peacekeeping, humanitarian and warfighting capabilities whilst offering communities and supply chains throughout the UK a wide range of economic and employment opportunities.
A key element of the Type31 programme is to supply a design with the potential to secure a range of export orders thereby supporting the UK economy and UK jobs. Arrowhead 140 will offer export customers an unrivalled blend of price, capability and flexibility backed by the Royal Navy’s world-class experience and Babcock looks forward to working closely with DIT and MOD in this regard.
Arrowhead 140 is a multi-role frigate equipping today’s mariner with real-time data to support immediate and complex decision-making.
The frigate is engineered to minimise through-life costs whilst delivering a truly leading-edge ship, featuring an established, proven and exportable combat management system provided by Thales.
Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales in the UK said: “Thales is delighted to be part of the successful Team 31 working with Babcock and has been at the forefront of innovation with the Royal Navy for over 100 years. With the announcement today that Arrowhead 140 has been selected as the preferred bidder for the new Type 31e frigate, the Royal Navy will join the global community of 26 navies utilising the Thales Tacticos combat management system. Thales already provides the eyes and ears of the Royal Navy and will now provide the digital heart of the UK’s next generation frigates.”
Babcock will now enter a period of detailed discussions with the MOD and supply chain prior to formal contract award expected later this year.
11 Sep 19. Eurofighter looks to stand out from Tempest’s shadow. Not be to outdone by its future successor Tempest, the long-running Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon programme is moving through a series of airframe and cockpit-based changes that will strengthen its weapons management and survivability capabilities.
An RAF test and evaluation squadron assessment of the Striker II helmet mounted display, integration of a new joint tactical radio system, and a continuation of flight tests to mature E-scan radar performance at RAF Warton, are all looked upon, by the company, as central to delivering greater protection to the frontline – though a firm order for Striker II is yet to be completed.
The airbase is also being used for Litening 5 targeting pod tests, according to Paul Smith, aircrew adviser at BAE Systems.
‘It has a very highly developed moving target tracking capability so it can track multiple ground and air targets simultaneously,’ he explained.
Using Striker II, pilots can pinpoint and engage targets of interest, differentiating between friendly and enemy forces, with additional features including risk estimate distances of a selected weapon.
Ground moving target identification is supported by the E-Scan radar and if necessary, a pilot can cross-coordinate with other sensors, should an earlier designated target be lost, to find it again, Smith shared.
Weapons already integrated under the RAF’s Project Centurion programme include MBDA’s Meteor, Storm Shadow, Spear, Brimstone.
‘In a later iteration of the [Spear EW variant] we would expect to be able to datalink to the weapon,’ Smith revealed, though did not confirm when such a capability would be trialled.
‘We have more effective and more accurate RF [computer-based] models [to test new weapons capabilities] and we do that in conjunction with our customers,’ Smith told Shephard. ‘In particular with Spear for the UK customer, we work with DSTL [Defence and Science Technology Laboratory], air defence intelligence, as well as our own intelligence.’
Aside from newer capabilities, Germany is set to replace Tranche 1 Typhoon hardware with Tranche 2 systems as part of a recapitalisation programme, with a move to put that piece of business on contract – for a first batch at least – likely to happen ‘by this year’ Smith explained.
A decision to add additional Eurofighter aircraft or select Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet as a Tornado replacement remains outstanding for Germany, though Smith did not comment on when a contract award would be issued. (Source: Shephard)
11 Sep 19. UK has robust arms export controls but will reflect on Saudi ruling – Wallace. Britain has a robust control system for weapons sales but is reflecting on a ruling that it broke the law in granting licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia, defence Minister Ben Wallace said on Wednesday.
An English court ruled in June that Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been deployed in the war in Yemen, after activists said there was evidence the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes.
The British government is appealing the ruling and no new export licences to Saudi Arabia can be granted in the meantime.
Asked by Reuters about the ruling after he gave a speech at the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair in London, Wallace said the court had noted that Britain already had a robust system in place.
“Britain has one of the most robust export control processes in the world … with regard to human rights,” Wallace said, hinting that Britain could re-evaluate its policy nevertheless.
“We’ve obviously said we’ll appeal it, however we also will reflect on the judgement itself … We have to have a regard for human rights and we have to demonstrate we are having a regard when we take those decisions on a case-by-case basis.”
Wallace declined to say what the financial impact of the ruling had been on the British defence industry. Although there is a stay on new licences being granted, Britain can continue exporting arms to the kingdom – Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser – under existing licences. (Source: Reuters)
10 Sep 19. UK capability ‘confidence’ masked by Brexit blind spot. Drawing on a message to ‘take back confidence in our defence industry’ Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK minister for defence procurement, announced a handful of contracts in a speech that projected Britain as a major global force at domestic and export level – though failed to make mention of potentially catastrophic trade complications, dependent on a fallout from Brexit.
An investment of £130m ($160m) is to be allocated to ‘novel’, electric-powered, laser and radio frequency weapons, off the back of a new joint delivery office for directed energy weapons being formed – made up of the Defence Science and Technology and Defence Equipment and Support offices.
Trevelyan also broke the news of five undisclosed UK defence suppliers being handed £177m in funding under the naval Boats in Service Support programme, with contracts due to run to 2026 and covering repair and maintenance of small boats used by the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army and MoD police.
A £70m contract for the development of ‘enhanced cutting-edge receivers’ with anti-spoof and anti-jam capabilities has also been signed off with Qinetiq.
Beyond those contracts, Trevelyan paid homage to sovereign capabilities and programmes, highlighting the development of the air defence system Land Ceptor, under agreement with MBDA and the future combat air system Tempest – led by BAE Systems.
On the naval front, she said ‘we are building the world’s most cutting edge [aircraft] carriers and less than a fortnight ago our leading aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth headed off to New York on her Westlant trails.’
While a decision looms for a shipbuilder to be named for Type 31 frigates and talk of new developments concerning Tempest, no such details were spoken of.
In the face of high profile DSEI protests taking place outside the Excel, Trevelyan took issue with those who seek to disturb the event.
‘There are campaigners whose wish for a safe and peaceful world leads them to misunderstand how defence works. It is only by showing strength and credible deterrence that those who would wish our citizens harm are persuaded not to attack our way of life,’ she said.
11 Sep 19. Italy partners with the UK on Tempest. Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment & Support, and Lieutenant General Nicolò Falsaperna, Italian Secretary General of Defence, have signed a Statement of Intent to partner on Tempest in their roles as National Armament Directors.The Statement of Intent (SOI), signed at the DSEi conference yesterday, commits both governments to further develop their Combat Air capability relationship.
The agreement covers existing platforms such as Typhoon and F-35, as well as Tempest, the programme initiated by the UK to develop a next generation combat air system.
The Statement of Intent outlined a number of commitments from both countries:
- Closer Government alignment on future Eurofighter Typhoon enhancements;
- Deepening discussions on Tempest military requirements;
- Developing a combat air roadmap, identifying opportunities to integrate advanced technologies from Eurofighter Typhoon into Tempest;
- Developing an innovative, agile and co-operative industrial framework to deliver Tempest;
- Launching pilot studies to demonstrate new, collaborative ways of working;
The agreement was the result of the joint Government feasibility study, which was launched following publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2018.
The study concluded that the UK and Italy are natural Combat Air partners, with both Air Forces (the Royal Air Force and the Aeronautica Militare) operating the same, potent fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35.
Informed by these systems, both Air Forces have a strong overlap in views on the characteristics necessary for the next generation of combat aircraft. Both Air Forces also share a close alignment on doctrine, training, and operational experience.
The UK and Italy have a proven 50-year track record of working closely together on Combat Aircraft development and support through the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon programmes.
Both Governments confirmed a common desire for a strong industrial base to develop key capabilities and boost prosperity in both nations. The agreement also paves the way for closer industrial collaboration, including through shared industrial entities such as Leonardo and MBDA.
Last month, the UK and Swedish governments a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding on future combat air, committing the parties to work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme. (Source: U.K. MoD)
12 Sep 19. RAF moves to counter Russian A2AD capabilities. UK air force chiefs are moving to counter so-called anti-access/area denial (A2AD) ‘missile bubbles’ by applying artificial intelligence (AI), as well as new weapons, equipment, tactics, and improvements in training. Air Commodore Julian Ball, the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) assistance chief of staff for capability and force development, told an audience at the 2019 DSEI exhibition on 9 September that the threat from hostile missile systems, such as the Russian Almaz-Antey S-400 air-defence system, NPO Bastion-P anti-ship missile, and KBM Iskander tactical ballistic missile, required a response. “Our access to future operational environments is being challenged,” he said. “This is our collective endeavour. (Source: IHS Jane’s)