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2 Dec 02. Thales is confident that it can win the UK MoD’s CVF (future aircraft carrier) programme through a competitive process based upon a technically superior design, value for money and a proven ability to deliver.

Thales has produced the MoD’s required ‘adaptable’ design for the carriers. This has been achieved through dedicating the necessary design expertise to Thales’ Bristol based prime contract office, together with partner organisations that are totally committed to the programme. Thales’ adaptable design for the STOVL (Short Take-off and Vertical Landing) carrier has been optimised around the same hull form of the earlier conventional and STOVL designs, ensuring maximum flexibility and delivery of a design to the customer’s requirements. Thales’ coherent design has been produced in partnership with British Maritime Technology who have been instrumental in the concept and assessment phases of every recent major naval programme. Thales will flow this design down into the individual ship building teams to maximise their input to de-risking the overall programme.

CVF is a major UK purchase and it is important that industry is given the maximum opportunity to supply into the programme, through competition not allocation. Thales has taken special steps to secure the widest possible involvement at this early stage of the programme by conducting roadshows across the country involving over 700 potential suppliers. This approach both maximises the prospective UK content and ensures the project captures the best available ideas and expertise. At present it seems likely that imported content will not exceed 1 per cent of items procured.

Thales believes that non-competitive allocation of work in shipbuilding programmes, does not bring about the right culture, stifling innovation and creating no incentive to deliver value for money through reduced cost. The Thales pioneered Superblock construction and integration contracts will be incentivised risk/reward sharing contracts, placed following a competitive bid process. Each significant partner will be invited to accept a risk/reward share-line, managed through (Kellogg Brown and Root) KBR’s integrated ship delivery team. Consequently Thales is in the best position to successfully delivery the programme. The processes that Thales will use to manage the construction of these Superblocks exists in the UK only through KBR’s offshore expertise. Thales is confident that its offshore transportation methods to final assembly site and hook-up process are the only way to ensure success for the programme, taking into account the construction tolerances and experience required of this scale of activity.

The Thales CVF platform delivery strategy has been determined against the absolute commitment to deliver the CVF programme on time and budget. Thales’ solution is to divide the work between several shipbuilding entities so that the work is done in parallel instead of sequentially. The offshore industry has a reputation for delivering projects to time using this parallel approach, refining the management and construction techniques for over 20 years. KBR as an offshore company has unparalleled experience of managing similarly complex construction projects in the offshore industry with on-time delivery being the key measure of success. Thales’ strategy blends traditional shipbuilding capability with these management techniques, a first in warship construction that will redefine the levels of performance attainable.

Thales is the major systems supplier to the Royal Navy providing sonar for all submarines. Along with EW, communications and radar, Thales’ systems are at the heart of the UK’s naval capability.

Comment: The battle for the CVF is hotting up with the Scottish media highlighting BAE’s choice of Rosyth and associated yards for this £10bn contract. Sources close to BATTLESPACE have gleaned differing views on the team’s chances with some suggesting th

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