Formtech partners BAE in bid to introduce composites to MoD

Formtech Composites and BAE Systems are working on a project to bridge gap between composite and defence engineering.

The companies are engaged in a joint effort to design, develop and produce a fully composite light assault bridge as a Technology Demonstrator for Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The MoD told The Engineer that the bridge is likely to be man-portable, easily assembled and used by infantry to cross ditches.

Mark Preston, Formtech managing director, said: ‘Composites are highly efficient and this is one of the main reasons why the Ministry of Defence should be using them. Particularly when manufacturing parts that have to be light and strong.

‘The benefits composites bring to the fields of motorsport and yacht racing can easily be transferred to other sectors. F1 teams can afford to take more risk on the composites they use as they will be extensively scrutinised after each race. However, the armed forces can’t afford the same amount of risk when people’s lives are on the line,’ he said.

Michael Codner, director of the Military Sciences Department at the Royal United Services Institute, said: ‘The versatility that composite materials can offer means they have a place on today’s battlefield. They weigh far less and can be manoeuvred with relative ease when compared to their metal predecessors,’ he explained.

He said his main reservation is the cost and this is something the Ministry of Defence must consider before investing.

Preston said the new light assault bridge is the perfect project to demonstrate that new technologies should be considered from the outset when designing new products.