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.

According to a contract award notice filed under ‘Reconnaissance aircrafts’, the Royal Navy are looking for BAE to integrate the FTUAS into the Type 23 Frigate:

“The Royal Navy, part of the UK Ministry of Defence, intends to award a contract to BAE Systems for the development of software and procurement of hardware to integrate data streams from the Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Aerial System (FTUAS) into its host Type-23 frigate (T23) Combat Management System (CMS). The contract will have an initial term of 3 years and 3 months, plus 2 options to extend for a further 1 year each. It is considered that this contract can be awarded using the negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice pursuant to Regulation 16(1)(a)(ii) of The Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 for technical reasons. This is because the FTUAS hardware and software solution will require integration with ‘legacy’ Combat Management System (CMS) on the host platform.”

The notice goes on to state the reason BAE has been awarded the contract.

“The Royal Navy, part of the UK Ministry of Defence, intends to award a contract to BAE Systems for the development of software and procurement of hardware to integrate data streams from the Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Aerial System (FTUAS) into its host Type-23 frigate (T23) Combat Management System (CMS).

The contract will have an initial term of 3 years and 3 months, plus 2 options to extend for a further 1 year each. It is considered that this contract can be awarded using the negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice pursuant to Regulation 16(1)(a)(ii) of The Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 for technical reasons. This is because the FTUAS hardware and software solution will require integration with ‘legacy’ Combat Management System (CMS) on the host platform.

The CMS is a proprietary system owned by BAE Systems, no other supplier has access to it. As well as owning and developing the CMS, BAES also are the sole owners of the source code for the CMS system and as such are the only supplier who are in possession of the expertise and know-how to complete the required upgrades, and to meet the security and integration testing requirements stipulated by the Integrating Authority of the MOD. The development work required to deliver the CMS functionality of the FTUAS programme is such that considerable alterations are required to be made of the CMS software, leaving BAES as the only supplier with the required access and means to the source code needed to fulfil the requirement.”

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’.”

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Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Presumably the RN version will just be a surveillance model and won’t come fitted with the 2x lightweight multirole missile launchers. Would be great to have that as standard across all surface combatants in my opinion. Great news regardless though! Can’t wait to see these prove their worth!
[email protected]

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

Its a considerable upgrade from most S-100s, integrating the i-MASTER radar and Link 16 datalink used on Watchkeeper as well as an EO/IR suveillance and targetting turret. I’m sure the addition of I-MASTER takes all the payload, no room for Martlet. Better to use it to find and fix and let Wildcat or an USV conduct the interception.

Last edited 1 month ago by James Fennell
Ron Stateside
Ron Stateside
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

You were discussing this just a few weeks ago in response to my wondering why the RN didn’t have S-100 yet. It is good news.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago

Finally. It has only taken 10 years of faffing around with the concept. They tried the Schiebel that long ago. I suppose at the time the technology was pretty new and that the S100 only had fairly basic sensors available to it. Today, Scheibel are developing the big brother to the S100 in the S300. The configuration is not finalised but is said to weigh between 600 to 750kg with a max payload of some 250kg. The S100 is 110kg and has a max payload of 50kg. I think this was the issue why the Navy delayed in getting it.… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I’ve been hoping they’d get to this for a long time! Something a bit bigger than S100 in the long-term I hope, but still.
Obviously, it’s always nice to be able to arm systems like these, but as long as they can paint a target for martlet (I presume off-board platforms can lase for them?) and provide situational awareness then it’s a winner.

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

I think there is a plan for an ASW drone for Type 26 as well – which will need to be larger – in the Firescout range.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Nothing to stop there being a second drone as the bomb truck?

I can see this being the way forward as it keeps each drone simpler.

So you might have one drone type with different configurable packages.

This gets things away from the big expensive whistles-n-bells approach to the let’s-get-something-affordable-in-service approach.

Also with multiplicity failure points are reduced.

Drone swarms can also the the attacking or defending…..

Just a thought anyway.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

A good one.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Scheibel have had a news item on their website that describes how with Thales collaboration, they have paired up a S100 with a manned helicopter. I think for the RN this will be vital in the future, where a UAV can be paired with either Wildcat or Merlin in their respective roles. The S100 would I believe be a very good starting point for developing the procedures for operating together. In its current form fitted with a decent EO turret, it can pop over a horizon do a quick scan and report via datalink back to the manned aircraft. Similarly… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The version being tested for UK has both EO/IR and radar – which is part of the RN requirement. https://www.shephardmedia.com/news/air-warfare/dsei-2021-thales-schiebel-partner-to-fill-maritime/

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Yep, but it all has to come within the 50kg max payload. When it is flown with a max payload the endurance is significantly
affected. Funny that Russia and China have been using these for the last ten years!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe16

Makes sense I guess to start evaluation and early employment with this setup and once experience gained assuming everything works as expected and shows the potential the bigger system with required fit can be brought in, or if through experience deemed necessary go in a different direction even. Though as things stand this seems to be the go to platform.

BigH1979
BigH1979
1 month ago

Excellent news but what an over the top promotional video!!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Great news. How many are we getting? Ships FFBNW, all T23, or only those deploying?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Probably only those deploying initially, mate. Nevertheless, this is great news. and the capabilities UAV’s will improve, probably quite quickly over the next few years. Current UAV’s capable of operating from our ships and within our budget range are still quite limited with regards to payload as Daveyb explains above. So it might reasonable to buy small to start with, hopefully followed by bigger buys as capabilities improve. These things tend to gather pace once products start to hit the front and confidence of operators and investors rise. I hope we will see most of the fleet routinely carrying this… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago

I believe only one vessel – Montrose – will get the first version as yet another trial. I think the Navy wants them in PODS to be deployable as needed.

Ron5
Ron5
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Where would a POD fit on a type 23?

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

SMAC 233 Wil be a doodle FD teams can just pick them up once rotors have stopped .

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

I think the software is the key. I imagine that will be installed in all ships but only some of those deployed will embark the drone. Big boost in capability for the River 2s.

Whlgrubber
Whlgrubber
1 month ago

Where on the ship are these drones operated from? Ships Op room, flight deck or remote? Anyone got any idea of the operating envelope? Sea state, rain, haze ? Like to see one being recovered in poor weather.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

Good news. T31 uses the Tacticos CMS. Will that be a problem?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Na, just means the navy will have to pay Thales (is it?) to modify their software, although I believe Tacticos is modular and can be upgraded relatively easily. If I was the RN I would wait for someone else to pay for the development of a new module…

Cheers CR

Doug S
Doug S
1 month ago

I would have thought this platform would be ideal for the River Class Batch 2s? Has so many pluses going for it.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Doug S

Totally agree. But having a ship of any class move up from hosting the hand-launched Puma is really good news. S-100, AW Hero or Skeldar, choosing a 30kg payload rotary UAV is long overdue.

BB85
BB85
1 month ago

The rules of engagements must be so confusing in somewhere like the straights of Hormuz. If a drone spots a USV at what point do they decide it’s a threat and sink it. If it’s just a black rib with a black cover over its cargo it could easily be a suicide drone targeting a tanker or patrol ship or it could just be a surveillance drone itself. If it’s moving at night and have very little heat signature it’s going to be a nightmare to spot when unexpected.

Mark L
Mark L
1 month ago

When the solution has been developed for Type 23 it should be straightforward to include it in Type 45, Type 26 and Batch 2 River. All of these classes have versions of the BAE CMS. The development timescale seems long, although it may be tied to ship fitting opportunities.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark L

If it is software it can be reflashed at sea as needed and or reverted back to the previous version.

Last edited 1 month ago by Supportive Bloke
john clark
john clark
1 month ago

Excellent news guys, while we can all agree the condition and direction of the Army is concerning and could go either way, the Navy really does seem to be heading in a clear and positive direction……

Angus
Angus
1 month ago

The RN have undertaken lots of trials over the years and even deployed a couple systems for a time but did not commit to anything. Most navies keep their eyes over the horizon as simple as possible so easy to use and work with. Long over due but I guess it will be a wait again before we see anything worth having. Of course you are only going to need it when deployed away from home and it has to be able to fit on the OPV’s to who have limited manpower and space. The RAN and Germans are going… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Angus

The counter argument is that there is no point in investing in an incapable capability that will be knowingly out of date by ETS.

There is a sweet spot between gaining knowledge and wasting time and resource on something ultimately useless.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

Indeed and as such mistakes will at times be made, some understandable or unfortunate and some far less so but it is easy to forget how difficult it is to hit that sweet spot.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
1 month ago
Reply to  Angus

The RAN established a UAS Development Unit in late 2012 which was then stood up in 2018 as a formal squadron 822X (for experimental) originally operating Scan Eagles with Schiebel S100s in inventory since 2016. The RAN primarily operate UAVs as ISR assets but 822X is charged with experimenting across a range of taskings. It’s unclear how much integration has been achieved with the RANs primary CMS the SAAB 9LV, so the RNs contract with BAE for CMS integration is interesting. The RAN has committed to operating the Scan Eagles and S100s for up to five years and purchase more… Read more »

Lee H
Lee H
1 month ago

Interesting to hear that CMS is propriety of BAES and not open architecture – I am sure Thales with their TACTICOS system which is moving to an open architectural solution can offer the same system without the need for costly integration.
https://www.thalesgroup.com/sites/default/files/database/document/2019-04/Tacticos-v02.pdf

MN
MN
1 month ago
Reply to  Lee H

You’d still have to design, test, and integrate the UI to control a UAS. Then after that you have to make sure your newly integrated software hasn’t broken the old software. Particularly the bits that go bang or woosh. And that’s only the OEM testing, after that there’s the RN’s mandated trials (look up Def Stan 21-088 and NCSISS).

In fact I’d say that CMS looks more open than TACTICOS, given T31 has all
Thales systems and CMS already has sensors from Ultra, Thales, Kelvin Hughes, BAE, Leonardo, Raytheon, etc.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

Another contract to BAE systems. Just wondering how a total or nigh on lack of competition works in the UK treasury interests?

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

BAE owns the source code, so nobody else could do the integration work.
Though I am surprised the MoD didn’t insist on a copy of the source code for the Type 23 CMS in the original contract.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

BAES would have sold it to them for an eyewatering price.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago

Cue complaints that the T23s are only getting one drone each and not an entire heavily armed squadron of supersonic stealth drones… 😆

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

Now now don’t poke the bears !

Simon m
Simon m
1 month ago

Why not AWHERO? Leonardo have already done work integrating it into BAE CMS? https://youtu.be/BJC2G7RJN-U
& Could be built in Yeovil?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon m

Interesting new to me. As I said on another thread if ‘Westland’ has a serious long term future then it certainly has to be at least a substantial part in drones and/or e-Vtol . No sign of that as yet mind despite both Bae and RR exploring the sector.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

I wonder what the support, training and management of the crews for these will be structured around. I imagine an FAA squadron will hold these as well as the team of people to run them and flights will be deployed as needed otherwise each ship would need a dedicated ground crew and pilots as part of the ships company.

Jay
Jay
1 month ago

Martlet (LMM) looks ideal for this

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

It’s good to see further investment in the remaining T23s following their upgrades. Could the older Montrose and Monmouth still be further repurposed as light coast guard-littoral patrol type frigates also with these FTUASs? Would cost money of course which could be already allocated to T31/32s. I know people here have previously said these ships are pretty worn out even knackered but if they still float and their engines still work…

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay

Even better on the Wildcat.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

Is this not just a contract to get the hardware and software built into the combat management system? Hardware being bits of CMS and software being well software.
Am I missing something about an actual UAV been added.
I’m guessing once this is in place then any unmanned system can be hooked up to it. With the type 23 out of service dates as well hopefully it’s comes together sooner rather than later.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago

I doubt Montrose will get it as her time left in theatre is relatively short. You do not want to test and trial a CMS mod in an operational area.You do that sort of thing in the UK, iron out the bugs (as there are always bugs) and issue the CCU, Certificate of Clearance for Use which lists any software “features” that are discovered during trials. Her relief in theatre will probably have it. EO is a nice capability to have but I doubt it will be much use as an illuminator for Martlett. As a beam rider (it is… Read more »

The Snowman
The Snowman
1 month ago

I wonder if this got continually dropped from the budget previously? A great addition, especially for River B2s.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

What’s the advantage of intergrating it into CMS? Does that just mean you won’t need separate control systems, the UAV’s radar is accessible to ship’s fire control, or just that it can land/take off safely?

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago

This is ultimately good news but it dose bring to light a worrying trend in the UK in that a private multi national company can hold the “source codes” for the main stay of the fleets Combat Management System (CMS). BAE systems owes it allegiance to its board members not to the UK so things like Source Codes should be held by the MoD, this would insure that a fair competitive system for any upgrades could be undertaken by other company’s helping to drive down the price.

simon
simon
1 month ago

The UK govermant owns a golden share in BAE which give then certain controls. Note that the MOD also lent on BAE to provided cheap loans to Sheffield Forge masters for example

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  simon

Hello Simon, The nearest to public ownership we have on BAE or any of the other Defence contractors is the ex ministers and ex high ranking officer that sit on their boards as full member or advisors, things like CMS should be owned entirely by the country who owns the vessel and not by a private multi-national company whose only motivation is profit. Company’s like BAE have turned the defence industry in the UK on its head as it is them not the MoD that are dictating the price of a product as we have no clear competitive system any… Read more »

simon
simon
1 month ago

Clearly not From BAE articles of Association ” Individual Foreign Shareholding RestrictionsThe Articles of Association include a requirement that no foreign person, or foreign persons acting in concert, can have more than a 15% voting interest in the Company. This current provision in the Articles can only be amended with the consent of the holder of the Special Share, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.” 20 May 2021 BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence contractor, is embarking on a search for a successor to its chairman, Sir Roger Carr, It must have a British chief executive who is… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  simon

It dose not matter who the Chairman is (I think it is more likely to be an American) the only incentive they have is profit and how to maximise the profit. When BAE was a British company (as apposed to a Multi-national) there was an element of National pride in its bidding process now however it is just how much profit they can squeeze out of the British tax payer.

simon
simon
1 month ago

The company has a duty to make a profit for it shareholders. BAE are multi national as they have brought other company’s. Unless you are talking pre-privatisation, I cant see were you are getting the idea that they give a discount for national pride. If fact in some ways before Nimrod AEW3 the UK defence market was closed to outside competition which meant there was more likely of increased costs

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago
Reply to  simon

I very much doubt that cost are going down due to our defence contractors getting bigger!!
The most arcuate part of your last statement was The company has a duty to make a profit for it shareholders,
The MoD is as much the blame for allowing these companies to monopolize the UKs defence industry, why would you allow a private company to keep the source codes for the mainstay of the UKs fleet, an oversight maybe, or is the MoD allowing these companies to affectively privatise the armed forces.

pompeyblokeinoxford
pompeyblokeinoxford
1 month ago

Sorry to be a party pooper but there is no evidence that the RN is acquiring the Camcopter S100. Is not the tender for equipment (software and computers) to operate the Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Aerial System (whatever that is)? I think George is speculating on what could be. Don’t forget the Malloy T650 https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/bae-malloy-team-to-offer-t-650-heavy-lift-uav/145464.article; and it can carry a Stingray torpedo.

Derek
Derek
1 month ago

My understanding is that the Malloy offer is for a Heavy Lift UAV (i.e movement of stores, material etc) between ships and ship and shore. This request above is for a tactical UAV to find, fix and track surface targets. They are for two different capabilities, I believe.

Alan Sparks
Alan Sparks
1 month ago

Correct – competition for the UAS element still to occur. S-100 assumption was pure speculation

Joe Ham
Joe Ham
1 month ago

I was wondering which aerials it would carry, HF/VHF/UHF and how they would be connected to their relevant receivers/transmitters. Most aerials are. You misspelt AIRIAL.