The Royal Navy has awarded BAE Systems a contract to integrate the Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Aerial System (FTUAS) into the Type-23 frigate’s Combat Management System.
FTUAS is an Urgent Capability Requirement and the aim is to deliver a maritime Uncrewed Air System (or drone to you and I) fitted with radar and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor capability that will be deployable from a T23.
As part of the User Requirement, the track data, video streams and AIS from these sensors must be integrated into the T23 CMS to enhance command Situational Awareness (SA) and decision making.
According to the contract notice statement of requirements, there is a requirement to develop software and procure hardware to integrate data streams from the Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Aerial System into its host Type 23 frigate “which is permanently based overseas”.
“The purpose of the FTUAS programme is to deliver organically generated ISR to the
ships Command such that they are able to FIND, FIX, TRACK and ASSESS crewed and
uncrewed surface points of interest at range from the parent ship, creating an increased
response time. Integration into the T23 Combat Management System (CMS) is critical to
The contract notice goes on to explain the specific requirements.
“The requirement is for the provision of software and hardware to incorporate FTUAS
radar tracks, AIS tracks and air vehicle data into the CMS tactical picture and for display of FTUAS full-motion video to meet the specific needs detailed in the FTUAS CMS SOR
The FTUAS data will be blended with T23 sensor data to provide a fuller Local Tactical Picture and contribute to the force picture via tactical data links.
In addition, the Operations Room staff must be able to independently select to display
the EO/IR data stream from the FTUAS, as required, to allow them to view Full Motion Video (FMV) and appropriate associated metadata.
There is a requirement for an accredited Security Enforcement Function (SEF) to be
supplied. This will act as an information filter/gateway between the FTUAS ground control
station (GCS) (through which the data is delivered to and from the air vehicle) and the T23 CMS, managing the passing of data from an OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE classification (at the FTUAS GCS) to a SECRET classification (T23 CMS).”
The life expectancy of the contract is 2 years from IOC with an anticipated IOC in Q1 2024 and an option for it to be extended by up to a further 2 years. However, the software and hardware used to integrate FTUAS data into the Type 23 CMS will remain in situ with the option for it to also be used on other platforms (or if FTUAS is taken up as a core capability). The software delivered will remain an enduring element of the BAES CMS-1 product family, the contract specifies.
“The Authority will retain the right to remove hardware associated with the fit, for installation on other platforms, as required. Supplier support to both the software and hardware element is required for 2.5 years from the time the CMS FTUAS upgrade occurs. The option to extend this on a year by year basis for spares and support is to be included.”
What is FTUAS?
A previous contract tender notice went into detail, explaining that the system will be used to counter Unmanned Surface Vessels in an operational theatre. It said:
“Flexible Tactical Unmanned Air System (FTUAS) Urgent Capability Requirement (UCR) for Royal Navy/Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) forward presence shipping to counter Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) in an operational theatre. The requirement is for a capability to FIND, FIX, TRACK and RECOGNISE USVs operating alone, in large numbers or in combination with small manned vessels.
It is anticipated that the solution will permanently embark in shipping (including Type 23/Type 31/Type 45/LSDA/AO) to provide a persistent, intimate, integrated and assured capability to the parent unit. The ability to operate at sufficient range from its parent ship to facilitate timely decision making is anticipated as is the need for a maritime radar to satisfactorily deliver ‘FIND’.”