LONDON — The British Army is rethinking how it conducts a key element of its training, tapping industry to help deliver the first phase of what the military says will be a “surrogate for warfare” by the time the upgrade is complete.
Requests for information (RFI) are scheduled to be released by the Ministry of Defence Nov. 1, formally launching an industry competition to secure the first phase of a major training overhaul: the Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP).
“Collective training will become a surrogate for warfare; driving adaptation, generating combat ethos, empowering commanders, and delivering tactical innovation,” said the British Army in response to questions from Defense News.
“From now to 2025, collective training will be transformed to prepare the Army. Critically, that will be through delivering trained force elements at readiness, but also through contributing to maintenance for the dynamic and complex future operating environments faced in an era of constant confrontation,” said the Army.
The Phase 1 RFI is expected to attract responses from at least three of the top British and U.S. defense contractors interested in the sector here. Spokespeople for Babcock International, Lockheed Martin UK and Raytheon UK all confirmed their interest in the program.
Its the second time in a few months the three companies have found themselves head-to-head in a competition for a significant military training deal in the U.K. They are also vying for a potentially major deal to train Royal Navy recruits.
Babcock and Lockheed Martin already have significant land forces training businesses here, while Raytheon’s main training activity in the U.K. is in the commercial sector.
A spokeswomen for the U.S.-based SAIC said the company was “not actively pursuing a bid at this time,“ despite murmurings to the contrary.
CTTP involves training groups or units up to divisional level. The program is part of the British Army’s new Future Collective Training System.
The transformation program has been sparked by the need to adapt to the rapid change in the nature of warfare and the re-emergence of state-on-state threats from potential adversaries like Russia and China.
For much of the last two decades the British have been engaged in counter insurgency campaigns against terrorist forces in Afghanistan and Iraq operating with comparatively low technology. The need to ramp up the effort to counter complex peer or near peer threats has left some British training facilities and processes short of today’s requirements.
The British believe collective training needs to be more challenging and conducted in more complex environments, if its formations and units are to maintain battle readiness. Urban operations and information maneuver are among the key skills the British want to improve, said an industry executive who asked not to be named.
The benefits of the program go beyond training. The Army said it is also looking to generate more strategic effect and deterrence in the future by conducting collective training in key parts of the world.
“The British Army will train in regions of the world that cement our joint and international partnerships and reassure our friends and deter potential adversaries,” said the Army.
The British already train in Europe, Canada, Oman, Kenya and Belize. It’s possible that list could be expanded.
The Phase 1 RFI was supposed to be released at the start of October, but was marginally slowed by various issues. Responses are due Nov. 29.The intention is to follow up Phase 1 with the release of the Phase 2 RFI on Jan. 20, with industry responding no later than Feb. 14.
The Army declined to give expected industry contract dates for either phase of the transformation, but the Future Collective Training System is planned to achieve full operating capability in 2025.
Upgraded urban training facilities, additional virtual training at Army bases and potential use of innovative synthetic training capabilities are among the potential improvements, said the industry executive.
The second phase is expected to build on the work conducted in the first phase, involving a number of services and capabilities that together deliver the full Future Collective Training System.
Together the two phases could be worth in excess of £600 million ($770 million), although more precise figures depend upon final requirements, which be driven in part by affordability.
The British currently spends about £1 billion annually on collective training.
Most, if not all, the companies involved will likely be leading industry teams in some form of partnership with the Army.
The commercial model the MoD wants to adopt for the industry alliance with the Army is as yet unclear.
CTTP officials are known to have looked at five or six possible options including appointing a strategic delivery partner, a contractural alliance and even private finance.