Thales UK has been chosen for the next stage of the programme to equip the British soldier for the computerised network-centric battlefield of the future, Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach announced yesterday.
The company’s Optronics division, based in Glasgow, has won a contract to undertake detailed studies into the technologies required to meet the Army’s needs under the Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme.
‘We have selected Thales UK for the Assessment Phase of the FIST project because we judge they are best able to deliver this vital new capability for the Army,’ said Lord Bach.
‘We carefully considered the alternative proposals from BAE Systems, which had significant strengths. But Thales UK’s plan brings together the different elements of this very complex programme more effectively.
‘We plan to harness the most advanced, reliable and robust network-centric technology to ensure our troops can outthink, outmanoeuvre and outfight the potential adversaries we could meet in future decades.’
The Future Integrated Soldier Technology programme received initial approval in 2001. The contract for assessment phase studies to be placed with Thales UK, subject to successful negotiations, is expected to cost around £20 million and will run for 32 months.
A Demonstration and Manufacture contract is expected to be awarded in 2006, with the first full infantry brigade due to be equipped with FIST around the end of the decade.
The total estimated programme cost for FIST, including the main production order, is expected to be around £800 million with whole life costs of about £2 billion.