The Royal Navy is set to enhance its digital technology systems through a new contract with Sierra Nevada Corporation – Mission Systems UK.

Announced by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the two-year contract, with an option to extend for an additional two years, aims to support, scale, and enhance innovative digital technologies at a rapid pace.

This contract represents a shift in how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to leverage industry partnerships to boost its technological capabilities. SNC Mission Systems UK will collaborate closely with the Future Capability Innovation (FCI) team at DE&S to deliver and support digital technology development for the Royal Navy, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and the Royal Marines.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge, highlighted the significance of the partnership, stating, “Establishing closer partnerships between industry and defence is a key part of my drive to integrate and procure equipment, capabilities, and services better in the future. It will see our highly trained personnel maintain capability whilst keeping pace with technology innovation.”

James Gavin, FCI Head at DE&S, expressed enthusiasm for the project’s potential: “The Royal Navy, DE&S FCI, and MoD’s Commercial X worked collaboratively to bring the innovative ‘Mission Partner’ concept into being. We are looking forward to working with SNC Group UK to not just bring innovative digital technology to the front line but to prove the value of the Mission Partner concept for other parts of the MOD.”

Rear Admiral Ivan Finn, Director Navy Acquisition, commented on the partnership’s broader implications, “This partnership will further accelerate Royal Navy in-house developed technology to the warfighters on the front line whether they be at sea, on land, or in the air. The support enabled through the Mission Partner will have a significant positive effect on our people, delivering a better capability.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816309)
22 days ago

That “language” is a perfect sample for the problems with increased complexity of today services
It is practically impossible to understand this without being inside and even less scrutinise it.

Jon
Jon (@guest_816323)
22 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

A framework without the competitive element? With government reducing the number of civil servants again, I expect we’ll see even more partnerships with services being bought in without contractual measurable outputs. I hope there’s an agreement that the money is mostly spent in the UK.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_816468)
22 days ago
Reply to  Jon

The competative part has already been done – when the company bids to be on the framework. T&C, Prices etc. are assessed at that stage. I doubt this bid would be open to foreign companies & all the workers would natuarally be security cleared. At least I would be shocked if that were not the case.

Steve
Steve (@guest_816461)
22 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

To me it’s always unclear why these types of services need to be outsourced. Each country will keep their military tech ring-fence meaning there isn’t advantages to be gained from cross miltiary forces expertise.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_816469)
22 days ago
Reply to  Steve

This type of work is not a core activity of the RN. Keeping them as external contractors is beneficial in a number of ways including cost.

Steve
Steve (@guest_816470)
22 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

How can it be beneficial in cost? If its a service provided across lots of buyers you can get cost savings, but there is only one military buyer in the UK, so all your doing is paying the same costs as you would be in housing it plus their profits.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_816495)
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve, if you are a company who specialise in people with the skills in question you will have depth inside the organisation already, you will know the market rates to get addtitional resouces, you will know the training required and how to nurture that type of individual. What you are buying is not just individuals it is the ability to manage the whole project from day one. This is not unusual. Many tech projects in the public and private sector work perfectly well on that basis and have done for decades.. I wouldn’t get obsessed with their profits. Yes certainly… Read more »

Steve
Steve (@guest_816528)
21 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

I don’t get this argument. Is electronic warfare and comms an ongoing need for the RN, if so they should build up their own in-house expertise. If it’s purely a one off enhancement then I get bringing in external expertise.

Steve
Steve (@guest_816534)
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve

It’s the same reason that the vast majority (80% last year) of elective surgeries were outsourced by the NHS last year. Constantly outsourcing everything doesn’t necessarily bring the best value to the tax payer.

Also as questioned where do these companies get their expertise as its purely a military tech. The only place possibly can be from UK MOD contracts.

Last edited 21 days ago by Steve
Mark B
Mark B (@guest_816572)
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Let’s look at it from another perspective. RN has, and continues to have, difficulty recruiting. The guys/girls who are good at this will likely be the ones who were good at maths at school and not team sports. Possibly slightly ASD. The last place they would look for a job is the RN plus for them they can find good career opportunities all over the place.

Therefore in answer to your question the RN want the expertise probably as does the RAF and other Government agencies but they need a company to bridge the gap.

Steve
Steve (@guest_816573)
21 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

They don’t have to be part of the navy, they could be part of the MOD or other civil service area. Logically an area of GCHQ would make most sense.

I get there are recruitment issues but spending more for external companies to supply staff because of it is just going to make the matter worse as can’t then use that money to improve recruitment.

If this was off the shelf capability that could be upgraded/installed fast then fully agree at times you have to pay more to get something faster but it doesn’t appear to be.

Last edited 21 days ago by Steve
Mark B
Mark B (@guest_816574)
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I would argue that the RN are probably not paying more than doing it in-house. Difficult to prove as I suspect doing it in-house might be tricky if not impossible. When you bundle in the management, recruitment, pension, training costs etc. I think it will be cheaper via a company – that’s my experience.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_816466)
22 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Put simply the RN is partnering with what are technically external companies who will provide skills not found in the RN. The RN will be able to utilise these companies to develop whatever they need – almost although the company is part of the RN.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_816533)
21 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

It usually comes before actually reducing front line kinetic muscle.

Julian
Julian (@guest_816549)
21 days ago

Interesting to see Sierra Nevada Corp as the partner. I’m not familiar with the entirety of its operations but I do follow what one of its subsidiaries – Sierra Space – is doing quite closely. After SpaceX I’d say Sierra Space is the most exciting company in the entire space industry with its work on its LIFE inflatable space habitat modules and its Dream Chaser space vehicle which is a sort of mini space shuttle, hopefully without the crazy cost-per-launch and the very extensive refurbishment that the Space Shuttle required after each flight. If there are no further delays then… Read more »