Ministry of Defence restart Type-31e Frigate Programme
On 20 August, the Ministry of Defence restarted the competition to build five new light frigates for the Royal Navy, having terminated the original competition in July due to insufficient interest. MOD has issued a ‘prior information notice’ that informs potential bidders that the government is moving forward with the programme. There are apparently no changes in the requirement or delivery schedule, necessitating a first ship delivery by 2023. It is understood the MOD plans a short period of market engagement with potential bidders. The purpose of the market engagement is to share key elements of the new procurement, including technical and commercial elements. Feedback will inform the further shaping of its requirements and commercial construct. Re-launching the programme, an MOD spokesperson insisted that the Government remains committed to a ‘cutting-edge Royal Navy fleet of at least 19 frigates and destroyers’. Under the 2017 National Shipbuilding strategy, bidders will be expected to demonstrate not only how they will meet the requirement within a budget not to exceed £1.25Bn, but also how they will do this while maximising UK industry involvement. Speaking to the UK Defence Journal, Cammell Laird has indicated that up to 70% of the supply chain for their bid would be British, and they have a network of more than 2,000 suppliers to call upon.
UK announced £92M investment in Galileo alternative
Indications that the Government intends to launch a UK-national satellite navigation system in the event that it is frozen out of the Public Regulated Service of the EU Galileo programme as a result of Brexit moved forward this week. The Government announced on Wednesday that it is setting aside £92M to undertake an 18-month study looking at the feasibility of designing and developing an alternative. The money has been allocated from the £3Bn Brexit readiness fund announced in the 2017 Budget. The government has been clear that the UK wants to remain involved in the Galileo programme, and is negotiating to this end. However, the EU is currently sticking to the position that, like all third party countries, the UK would only be allowed access to the unencrypted Galileo signal, rather than the encrypted service primarily designed for military users. For industry, the position has also seen UK companies locked out of participating in recent competitions for Galileo work, despite being central to programme development. Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: ‘We remain confident in the strength of our space sector and look forward to working in partnership with them on the exciting prospect of a national satellite navigation system.’