LONDON — Supply chains for two of Britain's largest defense programs have benefited in the last few days from a rush of production contract awards by industry primes BAE Systems, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin.
By early August, with Parliament on its summer recess and people's minds here turning to the beach, it's normally a quiet time on the announcement front for defense.
The last few days were different, though. Fourteen contracts from across supply chains that include equipment from Austria, Germany and the US, as well as the UK, were announced for three British programs.
The contracts illustrated the increasing globalization of defense supply chains and emphasized the continued willingness of the British to look overseas for equipment. It's something the British government hopes to see reciprocated more by its allies.
International supply chains, and Britain's role in them, were on British Procurement Minister Philip Dunne's mind when he visited Washington recently and talked up Britain's ability as an equipment supplier.
"We have been actively encouraging US and other non-UK domicile primes to come into the UK to explore our supply chain," he said in a speech July 28.
The relationship is the most fruitful with the US, but even here he said he found it curious the trade "often seems to go largely in one direction. Put simply, we buy a lot more from you than you buy from us," he said.
It's not all a one-way street, though. Lockheed Martin reckons it spends £1 billion (US $1.56 billion) a year with its UK supply chain, while Raytheon estimates it spends around £600 million — in both cases much of that is spent by the significant local operations both companies maintain here.
Outside of the US, Dunne pointed to naval shipbuilding as a sector where Britain could enhance its international equipment supplier credentials.
While he noted that many nations wanted to handle shipbuilding as a matter of national pride, "many of those nations don't have the design capacity to build everything which goes into them," he said.
Almost on cue Aug. 5, BAE naval ships business announced Aug. 5 seven contracts worth in excess of £170 million with suppliers from the UK and overseas for equipment to be installed on the first three of what it is hoped will be a 13-strong fleet of Type 26 anti-submarine warfare/general purpose frigates for the Royal Navy.
General Dynamics UK and Lockheed Martin UK also weighed in with four supply chain contracts worth a total of £290 million for the Scout Specialist Vehicle program. set to The program will provide the British Army with a new family of medium-weight tracked armored vehicles, with deliveries planned to begin planned to start being handed over in 2017.
Seemingly not wanting to be left on the sidelines, t The Ministry of Defence late last week also got into the act, as well awarding around about £80 million of business to put a spring in the step of 12 of the 13 strong Type 23 frigates, fleet with new diesel power generation systems manufactured by Rolls-Royce Power Systems in Germany and voltage converters from Hitzinger of Austria.
The Type 23s, which are also undergoing a systems and weapons update, have been the backbone of the Royal Navy surface fleet for years and are undergoing upgrades to its systems and weapons. with the first built in 1985 and the last in 2002.
On the Type 26, BAE signed production contracts with Babcock, David Brown Gear Systems, GE Power Conversion, Raytheon Anschuetz, Rolls-Royce Power Engineering, Rohde & Schwarz and WR Davis. as well as BAE's combat systems unit will deliver an environmental system. being delivered by BAE's own combat systems unit.
The contracts range from Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines to the integrated communications system from Rohde & Schwarz. Raytheon Anschuetz will deliver the integrated navigation and bridge system. being delivered by Raytheon Anschuetz.
BAE is four months into a yearlong, £859 million demonstration phase contract awarded by the government to allow the shipbuilder to continue with detailed design and purchase of long-lead items. while extended n Negotiations over price and delivery for the first batch of warships have been extended. are hammered out by the two sides.
Geoff Searle, BAE's Type 26 program director, said the contracts "reinforced the strong momentum behind the program and is an important step toward the start of manufacturing the Type 26 in Glasgow next year."
The company hopes to have around about 47 contracts placed with 30 equipment suppliers by the end of the demonstration phase.
Some Roughly £600 million of the demonstration phase deal will be spent on equipment supply.
BAE is looking to sign a production contract for the first three ships of the class after completion of the demonstration phase at the end of March 2016.
Searle said BAE was still on track to cut the first steel for the Type 26 in late 2016, but that was contingent on a signing of the production contract.
Discussions over delivery of the first Type 26 continue, but 2021 or 2022 are likely dates allowing the Royal Navy to start pensioning off the first of its Type 23 fleet by 2023.
On the land systems front, a £3.5 billion production contract for 589 Scout SVs from the British government last September is now translating into deals with the supply chain.
General Dynamics is the overall platform prime, with Lockheed Martin the prime for the turrets being fitted to the for 245 reconnaissance versions of the vehicle being built for the Army. First deliveries are due in 2017.
Thales UK, with vehicle sights and other systems, Rheinmetall with turret structures, and Meggitt's US operations supplying the ammunition-handling system for CTA International's unique 40mm cannon firing case telescoped rounds.
Perhaps most interesting at this stage of the program though is a £17 million deal with British Formula One racing car company Williams to design and manufacture the vehicle's core infrastructure distribution system (CIDS) based on a General Dynamics design.
CIDS enables is a key part of the vehicles enabling the distribution of power and data around the vehicles.
General Dynamics has been using its own CIDS design from pretty much the outset of the program, but has now brought in Williams Advanced Engineering to refine and repackage the system.
The work should make the system lighter and smaller, while improving its sophistication and data-processing ability, said a spokesman for Williams.
A spokesman for General Dynamics UK said the company had brought in Williams because it has "cutting-edge expertise in Formula One-bred technologies and capabilities, including data analytics and systems integration."