Farnborough Air Show

UK seals weapons partnerships

 - July 15, 2008, 11:19 AM

Future British requirements for missiles and other guided weapons seem likely to be met by a partnership sealed here yesterday. Four companies and the UK Ministry of Defence teamed up for a £74 million ($145 million) assessment phase  over the next year. The companies in “Team Complex Weapons” are MBDA, QinetiQ, Roxel and Thales.

“We are embarking on an innovative approach. Team CW will help to maintain the UK’s key skills and technologies in missile development and protect our operational sovereignty in this sector for the future,” said Baroness Ann Taylor, UK Minister for Defence Equipment and Support. “This is a hugely important achievement. The assessment phase will launch six projects which are central to the long-term future of the industry,” said Steve Wadey, industrial chairman of Team CW and managing director of MBDA UK.

The six projects are:
• Fire Shadow, also known as the indirect fire precision attack loitering munition;
• A heavyweight (100kg) future air-to-surface guided weapon (FASGW) for the Future Lynx naval helicopter;
• A lightweight FASGW, also known as the lightweight multi-role missile (LMM);
• A 50-kg air-to-surface missile for attack helicopters and combat jets, also known as SPEAR (Selected Precision Effects at Range);
• The Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) family to replace the current land-,  aircraft- and ship-based air defense weapons, and
• Storm Shadow/SCALP long-range air-surface missile capability enhancement.

MBDA will lead on five of the projects; Thales will handle the LMM.

Yesterday’s announcement followed two years of preliminary discussions, after the previous British defense procurement minister challenged the missile industry to find a new approach for future development. The teaming agreement is legally binding, and has been officially sanctioned by the UK competition authorities. The principles have also reached a nondisclosure agreement, perhaps allowing other companies–such as Raytheon Systems–to join.