LONDON ― An active protection system electronic architecture that will allow the British Army to tailor its sensors and countermeasures to meet a changing threat is to be demonstrated in a £10 million (U.S. $13 million) deal between a Leonardo-led team and the government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
The technology demonstrator program, known as Icarus, will lay the groundwork for the potential deployment of the capability across the Army’s vehicle fleet, according to Leonardo.
The contract was announced by British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon during a speech at at the DSEI exhibition in London, England, on Sept. 13.
The contract will run to mid-2020 and see the Leonardo team principally aim to develop and demonstrate a U.K.-sovereign modular integrated protection system, or MIPS, electronic architecture, which allows best-of-breed sensors and countermeasures to be selected, integrated and deployed per requirements.
“It is clear that no single solution is suited to every threat scenario,” the company said. “The key challenge is to be able to rapidly and affordably tailor a vehicles combination of APS [active protection system] technologies to optimize survivability prior to, or during, deployment.”
Officials with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, or DSTL, said the work could help pave the way for a new MIPS defense standard across NATO.
The British team performing the work are BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin UK, Ultra Electronics, Frazer-Nash, Brighton University, Abstract Solutions, Roke Manor Research and SCISYS.
Leonardo said in a statement the team will “demonstrate and evaluate an operational prototype against live-fire weapon engagements,” as part of the demonstrator program.
The U.K. arm of Leonardo is already undertaking similar APS integration activities for the U.K. helicopter fleet under DSTL’s related common defensive aids system program.
The Icarus work is part of a wider Ministry of Defence effort in active protection, which in 2016 saw QinetiQ awarded a £7.6 million contract by DSTL to evaluate an APS for armored vehicles.
QinetiQ is working with a number of subcontractors, including Hensoldt, to evaluate the ex-Airbus Defence and Space company’s multifunctional self-protection system known as MUSS.
The technical assessments of the soft-kill system will take a look at how well the equipment performs against a range of weapon systems. It will also include a BAE applique integration of MUSS onto a Challenger 2 main battle tank to demonstrate potential future capability.
The Medusa work has been underway for 18 months and is expected to be completed in early 2019, according to a DSTL official.
The work could form the basis of an interim APS buy by the British, while Icarus ― and what comes after it ― is matured.