22 Aug 05. Andrew Chuter from Defense News reported that Britain and the United States plan to deepen collaboration in defense research with the creation of a groundbreaking technology alliance to undertake work in network and information sciences. Industry and academia from both sides of the Atlantic have been invited to collaborate with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.K. Ministry of Defence in a single team known as the International Technology Alliance (ITA). The team is slated to investigate four areas of emerging technologies: Network theory, Security across a system of systems, Sensor information processing and delivery, Distributed coalition planning and decision-making. The first phase of the program, dubbed OTA-1 and covering fundamental research, is expected to cost about $150 million and could run for up to 10 years.
The initial focus of work will be on land systems. Funding will be split 50-50 between the two governments for OTA-1. A second phase, which could run almost in parallel with the first phase, will seek to speed transition of the research results to military and commercial applications. The U.S. element of phase two is known as OTA-2, while the British element is referred to as ITA Transition Contract. The separate contract arrangement provides for the two sides to diverge at some points in the application areas they wish to pursue. The United States is estimating a ceiling on phase two costs of $200 million. U.K. funding intentions are as yet unknown. The two partners are drawing on the success of similarly constructed national research efforts that combine industry, academia and government to work on high-priority technology areas.
The ITA effort effectively internationalizes the concept of Britain’s Defence Technology Centres and the U.S. Army’s Collaborative Technology Alliances. Proposals from industry-led consortia forming to compete for the ITA work are due to be submitted to the U.S. and British governments on Sept. 13. BAE SYSTEMS, EDS, IBM, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all prequalified to bid as lead companies. However, of the five companies invited to bid, Northrop and Raytheon told Defense News they wouldn’t be submitting proposals, though the latter said it is negotiating to join one of the remaining consortia. The two governments require consortia to include British and U.S. universities in their teams, and the industrial bid leader has to be able to undertake significant research and development work in both countries.
The decision to collaborate in such a key area of coalition warfare will be seen as a boost for defense relations between the United Kingdom and the United States.
The two sides have been wrangling for months over wider issues such as technology transfer and the inability of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to gain approval from Congress for a waiver of International Traffic in Arms Regulations for Britain. The ITA concept has strong support from the “most senior officials” in government on both sides of the Atlantic, according to documents available on an ITA Web site. It says the scheme is being developed under the auspices of the U.K./U.S. Bilateral Defence Acquisition Committee.
That organization was set up two years ago by Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair in an effort, which some in industry say is now tarnished, to break down barriers in cooperative defense acquisition.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said Aug. 19 that the alliance concept broke new ground for the British in the research field.
“The ITA is the first of its kind for the MoD, and we’re delighted to be working so closely with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in the increasingly important area of network and information science,” he said.
The scheme may also provide a template for further moves of this kind for the British.
“International alliances are a mechani