LONDON ― A robot with the enough dexterity to defuse improvised explosive devices has been selected to equip the British Army with a new generation of remotely controlled bomb-disposal equipment, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced at the DSEI show in London, England, on Wednesday.
The British have become the first customer for Harris Corporation’s T7 in a deal that could see the U.S. contractor net up to £55 million (U.S. $73 million ) to supply 56 of the robots for bomb-disposal duties with the British Army, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Ed Zoiss, president of Harris’ Electronic Systems division, said the sale represents the “first of several more international contract awards we’re anticipating for the T7.”
The British program gets underway with a £4 million demonstration phase. The aim is to have first deliveries in the middle of next year, said Dana Mehnert, the chief global business development officer at Harris.
One of the key attributes of the T7 is the robot’s use of advanced haptic feedback from the robot arm to the remote control handgrip, giving operators the ability to feel their way through the sensitive process of neutralizing threats such as roadside bombs.
All 56 robots are due to be delivered and in service by December 2020, replacing the current Northrop Grumman Wheelbarrow Mk8B device as part of the MoD’s Project Starter.
Northrop Grumman UK, which bid its Andros FX system for Project Start, appears to have been given the consolation of securing an in-service support deal for a much larger remotely controlled robot also used by the British.
The company is expected to release details of a two-year deal for its Cutlass system in the next few days.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.