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Lightweight, Modular and Adaptable Armour for UK Military vehicles

The UK is the second largest defence exporter in the world with £6 billion of sales and a 22 percent share of the global market. Commitment to innovation and collaboration with other countries are among the driving forces to the country’s success.

Between 2006 and 2011, almost 40,000 new contracts were awarded by the MoD, worth just over £67 billion. Of those contracts, around 85- 95 percent were granted to companies planning to carry out the majority of the work in the UK. This open procurement approach has been warmly received by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and therefore plans have been put in place to make the MoD more accessible. The idea that the MoD is keen to work with SMEs is supported by the fact that 42 percent of contracts in 2010-2011 were awarded to SMEs offering innovation and flexibility.

Established in 2008, the MoD-sponsored Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) aims to facilitate entry to the UK defence supply chain. Over its four years of operation, it has provided more than £30 million of funding, the majority of which was awarded to SMEs. It provides one-to-one surgeries, seminars, workshops and more recently the opportunity to test armour materials and systems in a controlled environment, free of charge.

It creates numerous opportunities for SMEs to present their ideas to bigger players for exploitation of their technology through open and themed

calls. The most recent call is for novel game- changing armour protection systems. The armour needs to be suitable for hot or cold, wet or dry, arid or jungle environments. Furthermore, the ideal solution would be modular, scalable, lightweight, adaptable, and last for more than 30 years.

Steel and aluminium are metals that are commonly used to fabricate military land vehicles. In response to the need for more agile vehicles, the UK developed its own armour steel. The perforated ‘Super Bainite’ armour not only exhibits enhanced ballistic

protection, it is a fraction of the cost and weight of conventional armour steel. Titanium has also been successfully used for upgrades, armoured seats, gun shields and armour plates. Over 1000 tonnes of titanium has been used across the military, and is expected to grow as the need for lightweight yet effective upgrades increases.

Over the next decade, the MoD plans to spend £5.5 billion on its core armoured

vehicle programme. The UK has already demonstrated its cutting edge skills on vehicles based on the US Cougar fleet and the Bronco from Singapore. These were purchased as off-the-shelf base vehicles and then adapted in the UK, often by SMEs. Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment said “these are the kind of projects which will help to sustain our skills bases here in this country”. More recently, the country’s skills have been

manifested in the new Foxhound. Designed in the UK, more than 90 percent of the companies involved in the production of the vehicle are based in the UK. It’s an extremely agile vehicle that can have its engines removed and replaced in 30 minutes and drive away on just three wheels if necessary. Production of these six tonne vehicles is well underway and on schedule for deployment this summer.

For more information on how to respond to the CDE call, please visit:

E-mail: Tel: +44(0)1709 724990 11

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