Thales UK awarded Future Air Defence Availability Project contract
MOD announced on 25 October that Thales UK have been awarded a £93M contract for the Future Air Defence Availability Project, which will provided the Army and Royal Marines’ very short-range air defence capability. The contract will secure over 100 jobs at Thales’ facility in Belfast. The project will enhance the MOD’s High Velocity and Lightweight Multi-role Missile systems which are designed to intercept a wide range of air and surface threats such as enemy drones, helicopters and armoured vehicles.
Defence Procurement Minister, Stuart Andrew MP, was in Belfast to make the announcement, where he also chaired a meeting of the MOD’s SME suppliers forum. NDI were present to represent our members, when topics for discussion included progress on the Modernising Defence Programme, next steps on the MOD’s national prosperity agenda following the publication in July of Philip Dunne’s Defence Prosperity Review, and the MOD’s SME action plan, which includes ambitions for better working between MOD, prime contractors and the supply chain.
BAE Systems’ Type 26 Frigate selected for Royal Canadian Navy
On 19 October the Canadian government announced its decision to select BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship as the preferred option for the Royal Canadian Navy’s future Canadian Surface Combatants. Type 26 will replace the Iroquois and Halifax class warships with up to 15 new ships, with deliveries expected from the early 2020s. The bid was primed by Lockheed Martin Canada with BAE Systems providing the Type 26 design, already under construction in Glasgow for the Royal Navy. The ships will be constructed by Irving Shipbuilding in Canada. Also involved are CAE, MDA, L3 Technologies, and Ultra Electronics. Exclusive discussions will now proceed through due diligence process before a contract is awarded, which is anticipated this winter.
The news follows Australia’s decision in June that it also intends to procure Type 26 to meet their own future frigate requirement. Though, like in Canada, those vessels will also be constructed in domestic shipyards, the Prime Minister Theresa May said at the time that she hoped this would boost Britain’s own export economy, with opportunities arising that British firms will be best placed to fulfil, on the back of the supply chain supporting the UK Type 26 programme. The Canadian announcement will give further encouragement that subsystem export opportunities arising from commonality of class will follow.
MOD publish ‘Defence in Numbers 2018’
On 24 October, MOD published its annual ‘Defence in Numbers’ booklet, which collates figures from a wide range of published official statistics and other official releases relating to the size, shape and cost of UK defence. It shows that, over the course of 2017/18, MOD spent £36.6Bn, equating to 2.1% of UK GDP. 18.7% of this was spent on equipment support while 15.6% was spent on specialist military equipment. This supported 123,000 jobs in industry.
Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson MP, and his Ministerial team took oral questions in the House of Commons on 22 October. Topics included using new and developing technologies to support the UK’s defence capability, and the NATO commitment to allocate 20% of defence expenditure to major equipment. A transcript of the session can be found here.
MODERNISING DEFENCE PROGRAMME: Asked what MOD’s spending priorities are for the modernising defence programme are, Mr Williamson replied that ‘good progress has been made on the Modernising Defence Programme and I expect to be in a position to share the results later in the autumn.
NATIONAL SHIPBUILDING STRATEGY: Asked for what reason the National Shipbuilding Strategy restricts the definition of warships to frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers, Mr Andrew replied that ‘the National Shipbuilding Strategy stated that warships must be built in the UK, and defined warships as frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers. This policy decision recognises that preserving the national capability to design, integrate and build warships is critical to national security. There is no underpinning national security reason to mandate that other Royal Navy ships are constructed in UK shipyards.’
CORE PRODUCTION CAPABILITY PROJECT: Asked whether the re-baselining of the core production capability project [for nuclear-powered submarines] has taken place and what the forecast cost and completion date of the project is, Defence Procurement Minister, Stuart Andrew MP, could only state that the funding approach remains under review.
OFFSHORE PATROL VESSELS: Asked what competitive tender process was completed for the construction of the current River-class batch two vessels under construction on the Clyde for the Royal Navy, Mr Andrew replied that ‘the contracts for the Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels were awarded non-competitively to BAE Systems in order to preserve the UK sovereign capability to design, build and integrate warships and to set the entry conditions for a successful Type 26 Frigate programme.’
BAE SYSTEMS PORTSMOUTH: Asked what options for small ship construction in the redundant BAE Systems facilities in Portsmouth MOD has considered, Defence Minister for the House of Lords, Earl Howe, replied that ‘the former BAES facilities in Portsmouth Naval Base are home to a number of activities in support of the Royal Navy. It is a matter for industry to decide the optimum location for any work they undertake.’