The Ministry of Defence signed a new £40m contract with BAE Systems yesterday to ensure the UK retains a leading edge in the next generation of combat air systems.
The four-year Future Combat Air System (FCAS) focused research contract aims to sustain and develop the UK’s critical technology and skills in this field. It will inform the MOD’s unmanned air system strategy over the coming decades to ensure that the best use is made of these new technologies.
Currently, the vast majority of unmanned aircraft flying is surveillance and reconnaissance in support of front line troops, providing them with vital intelligence, and helping to save lives in Afghanistan.
Following yesterday’s announcement, a significant amount of the funding is expected to go to small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK, widening the supplier base and ensuring the MOD has access to the best national and international technologies.
The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said:
“I am committed to providing sustained support for science and technology across all aspects of Defence. As part of our ongoing investment, the Ministry of Defence has and will continue to invest in aerospace sector projects like this to ensure that we develop and maintain the UK’s formidable strengths in this specialist field.”
Dr Nick Joad, who heads up the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Air Domain, said:
“This is an important step in ensuring that the MOD continues to develop its capabilities in this area, and is able to exploit potentially game-changing technologies.
“We have worked very hard with BAE Systems to ensure that we have a high impact programme, and look forward to seeing the fruits of this investment of both money and intellectual capital.”
Tom Fillingham, BAE Systems Director for Future Combat Air Systems, said:
“The award of this contract is great news for the BAE Systems and Defence Science and Technology teams that have been working, since the beginning of this year, to develop the programme to address critical technology requirements for future Unmanned Combat Air Systems.
“It is recognition by the UK Government of the skills and capabilities that have been developed within BAE Systems over the last ten years.”
Ministry of Defence, UK