The MOD has awarded a three-year, £7.5 million research programme for the next generation of sensor systems. The new systems will enable troops in close combat to better detect, recognise, identify and engage the enemy in close combat before their actions are anticipated.
The Sensor Systems for Close Combat (SS4CC) programme is being led by QinetiQ as the prime contractor teamed with SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems and BAE Systems’ Advance Technology Centre. Expertise will also be sought from UK academia and smaller companies where appropriate.
“A key role for UK infantry units is the capability to locate, engage with and destroy enemy ground forces by means of close combat,” said Andrew Sleigh, MD of QinetiQ’s defence business. “While this remains the cornerstone of operational requirements, the nature of warfare has evolved significantly over the past two decades in the face of a growing and ever more sophisticated threat. In parallel there has been increasing involvement in peace keeping and peace enforcement operations, both of which impose additional demands and challenges on forces and the equipment they require to operate effectively.”
Key elements of the SS4CC programme will be to investigate how troops can better conduct operations in complex terrain, particularly urban, while limiting collateral damage and casualties. It will also enable ground forces to be better placed to detect unconventional threats, particularly Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and asymmetric tactics and respond to rapidly evolving threats. The programme will also help deliver increased operational tempo in their war fighting role.
Eight inter-related work packages were identified as the main research threads in the invitation to tender which encompass covert range-finding, near-field night vision systems and a host of urban sensors and electro-optic protection measures.