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Missile company MBDA UK has been awarded a £36 million contract to explore what capabilities a land version of an air defence system could offer the UK armed forces.
The future local area air defence system (FLAADS) is a ground-based missile system whose missiles can travel at 1,000 metres per second and is able to simultaneously defend UK territories against a number of threats, including jets or cruise missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.
MBDA UK is already developing a similar system, known as Sea Ceptor, that will be used by the Royal Navy.
This assessment phase contract for the land version will sustain more than 90 highly-skilled jobs at MBDA’s sites in Stevenage and Bristol.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said:
The future local area air defence system would give the army a new, British-built, world-leading defence capability to protect UK interests against current and future threats from the air. These missiles are designed to form a suite of battle-winning capabilities we are investing in.
This potential land system is the next stage development of a maritime system which highlights that the UK is a world leader in evolution of missile design and manufacturing.
MBDA UK Managing Director and Executive Group Director Technical Steve Wadey said:
The FLAADS land assessment phase is an important milestone that demonstrates how the MOD-MBDA portfolio management agreement works. It’s the opportunity to provide an affordable yet highly capable air defence system for both the army and Royal Navy.
By extending the FLAADS programme to land applications, the UK MOD is showing confidence in MBDA’s ability to maximise cost benefits for its customers through modularity and reuse of existing technologies.
The army’s current air defence system, Rapier, which was used to defend London during the 2012 Olympic Games, has been in service since 1996 and is coming to the end of its service life.
Over the next year, MBDA UK will use state-of-the-art computer technology to assess exactly how the missile system would work and could be used by the army.
Following the assessment phase, a decision on whether to buy FLAADS as a replacement for Rapier is expected to be made next year.