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The investment in cutting-edge electronic warfare (EW) systems will greatly strengthen the Royal Navy’s ability to detect and identify radio communications. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the enhanced capabilities will facilitate faster decision making, better situational awareness, and improve the Royal Navy’s anti-ship missile defences. The MoD said on Tuesday it had awarded a lucrative £100million contract to a Babcock-led partnership to deliver the upgrades.
The partnership is comprised of the London-based defence contractor Elbit Systems UK and the Hampshire-based QinetiQ.
The contract will help create near to 170 jobs across the UK over a 13-year period.
Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, said: “In a world of rapidly evolving threats, these enhancements will upgrade the Royal Navy with pioneering radar detection capabilities maintaining the UK’s operational advantage at sea.
“The £100-million investment with key industry partners will underpin vital defence outputs whilst supporting jobs and investment in the South-West of England.”
The move to strengthen the Royal Navy’s powers comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea between China, Taiwan, and Taiwan’s allies in the West.
Fears of an all-out war were stoked this week after satellite imagery purported to reveal China building a number of mock US warships, possibly as training targets.
The Government’s EW contract marks the first phase of a £500-million Maritime Electronics Warfare Programme (MEWP), aimed at delivering “battle-winning operational advantage” to a number of ships in the Royal Navy fleet.
These include Type 45, 26 and 31 frigates, as well as Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
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And the UK has its work cut out for it – China and Russia are just as keen to expand and modernise their armed forces.
Earlier this summer it was revealed China had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile.
The terrifying new class of weapons can circle the globe five to 10 times faster than the speed of sound, while dodging conventional anti-missile measures.
Last month it was revealed Russia has also tested one of these weapons for the very first time.
The Zircon, or Tsirkon, missile was fired from a submarine in the Barents Sea, off the coast of Norway and Russia.
In wake of these developments, the UK will be keen to expand its own world-class capabilities.
Royal Navy Commodore Steve Prest, Senior Responsible Owner for the programme, said: “The ability to understand and exploit the increasingly complex electromagnetic environment is critical for the operational success of the Royal Navy.
“This technology will deliver a generational leap in our electronic warfare capabilities to ensure we maintain the operational advantage we need well into the 21st century.”
Rear Admiral Jim Higham, DE&S Director Ship Support, added: “I am delighted to have achieved contract award and look forward to working with Babcock, Elbit and QinetiQ.
“Now the real work begins – delivering this crucial capability to the frontline to time and cost and supporting the men and women of the Royal Navy in what they deliver for our nation.”
Babcock, Elbit and QinetiQ will work as one team with the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) agency and the Navy.
They will design, manufacture, deliver, and integrate the upgrades with the Navy’s fleet.
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