Prodrive Composites has fast-tracked a Design to Manufacture development programme for ballistic protection.

The company say that ‘within a very tight and critical time frame’, the business helped deliver an Urgent Operational Requirement for HMS Diamond that optimised the positioning of the ship’s close defence ballistic protection structures.

The upgraded protective mounting incorporated a bespoke composite design to withstand aggressive environments and sea conditions and fits within existing packaging space. Having met all technical requirements and undergone sea trials, this system has also been installed to HMS Dragon and HMS Duncan, the Royal Navy’s most modern operational warship.

“We are proud to have been selected to deliver this critical project with BAE Systems, who recognised that our Design, Manufacturing Engineering expertise and facilities would be perfectly suited for this challenging programme,” says Warren Roberts, CEO, Prodrive Composites.

“Delivery of an end-to-end solution within the specified timeframe, is a clear validation of Prodrive’s extensive in-house capabilities and the breadth of projects that we are able to undertake.”

Prodrive Composites completed all CAD work and tool design, component design, validation, manufacture and installation. “The ability to complete each stage in-house provided the platform to significantly streamline the development process,” continues Roberts.

“This significantly improved our ability to concurrently engineer each element of the project. Ensuring the Royal Navy’s fleet was operational in the shortest possible time frame.”

During the programme, Prodrive Composites worked closely with T45 COM, the Maritime Commissioning and Testing Authority (MCTA), and Royal Navy staff. Project requirements included the ability to control aggressive operational characteristics and to conform to World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) sea state code level 6, which controls conformance against very rough conditions with a wave height of up to six metres.

“The new system needed to be stronger and more robust but had to operate within the same space constraint. Essentially, the framework had to be stronger without being physically bigger,” explains Prodrive Composites technical sales manager, Phil Sherwood.

“We carried out extensive finite element analysis with our composites team to validate our design, which relied on a cored composite structure and triangulated framework that optimised rigidity while offering the required degree of flexibility. For obvious reasons, component durability is of paramount importance.”

Prodrive Composites designs and manufactures advanced lightweight structural and non-structural composites for a wide range of applications across the automotive, motorsport, aerospace, marine, defence and other specialist sectors.


  1. I didn’t thinlk l would ever see a more lame prime minister than David Cameron who I detest with a passion untapped. If however we are to believe the latest comments of Mrs Numpty May, why dont we just roll up the carpet and allow Argentina, Spain and Russia to take what they want?

    Is she retarded; so inept in world affairs? If the UK ceases to be a tier one power it will dwarf brexit as a consequence. What country has voluntarily given up that status since WW2? Answers on a postcard please. I despair of our leaders when on the same day our new head of the srmy has told his men, and women to man the hell up!! Warfighting is what we do!!

    • We’re not a tier one power anymore, that lies solely with the USA and China, if they decide to become more expansionist. We need to focus on being the strongest tier 2 power on the global stage as Brexit takes place rather than trying to spread ourselves too thinly attempting to be something we are not.

    • Different topic but she hasn’t said anything about dropping our defence capability. It’s just Daily Mail fake news

        • I read it as well, but May flatly denied it in her press conference today, saying the press reports were “not correct.” She did say that they were committed to 179bn of new equipment. I thought it was 178bn, but she definitely said 179bn, so perhaps a slip of the tongue?

          Regarding the T45 ballistic armour, the article does make it sound like some kind of plating, but the strengthening of structure makes sense as explained by another poster. It did not mention Defender having been upgraded so perhaps it does not need to be fitted during refit as that ship has just completed one.

          • As I pointed out on Navy Lookout Twitter to an FT quote about this supposed loss of interest in Defence by the PM its just the normal Anti – Brexit and anti – May journals peddling their nonsense. Remember the FT is a Japanese owned fiercely pro – EU paper these days. the Telegraph isn’t much better.

            So May asked Williamson to justify his position on more funding which is actually her job given she is HM’s First Lord of the Treasury. The same question she asked Hunt SoS for Health. Nothing new or special here just Leftie ‘noises off’ briefings.

            A bit like this ‘Bill’ who opened this Thread. He probably dislikes Cameron because he destroyed Brown in 2010 and then Milliband in 2015. I guess he applies the same logic to May who defeated Corbyn by a country mile (20% more seats) when ‘Jewemy’ got just 4 more seats than Brown in 2010…. In the immortal words of Lance Jack Jones:
            “They don’t like it up ’em Sir”

          • 20% more seats?

            That would be 130 seats wouldn’t it Chris?

            Not like you to get your numbers wrong

          • (Chris H) Sole Survivor – Its not like you to be in any way sarcastic either is it? But you are right it was actually 21.37%. … Go read my words again and pay attention while I do the maths:

            Conservative – 318

            Labour – 262

            Majority over Labour – 56

            56 seats as percentage of Labour’s total = 21.37%

            So May defeated Corbyn by 21.37% MORE seats did she not? This personal point scoring makes discussion here about Defence matters less enjoyable than it could be

          • No chris she didn’t, it’s not just labours 262 seats that are available for crying out loud, there are 650 seats in the British Parliament.

            You measure the election percentage on seats available to win not what the other side has won haha come on Chris.

            650 seats available

            Conservatives 318 = 48.9%
            Labour 262 = 40.3%

            Overall vote share

            Conservatives 42.4%
            Labour 40%

            And Chris, you have turned this into a Tory vs labour thread have a look who mentioned Labour first.

          • Tbh fellas whatever % you come up with the Tory’s are the current government and Labour the opposition. Let’s just leave it there.

  2. I confess that I am struggling, and failing, to understand this article. What are “close defence ballistic protection structures” as mentioned at the end of the first paragraph?

    • From what I can gather from the article, they’re upgrading the physical framework of the ship with higher-strength composites. Ballistic protection makes me think of things like kevlar plating over critical areas (a feature I know is present on Arleigh Burkes, but that I’ve never heard mention of for the RN fleet), but the wording of the article suggests its actually structural reinforcement they’re going for. So in the event of a weapon hit or in high sea states, theres a far lower chance of the frame collapsing under the stress

      • It’s the ‘cockpit’ areas around GPMG and minigun operators, areas that would be expected to take incoming small arms fire from fast attack boats or shore based threats.

  3. Wow! You can add another two naughts on the cost, with all that Prtentious Bull$hit!

    “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull$hit”.
    W.C. Fields.

    • The Type 23s probably not seeing their out of service date is closing in (i believe something like this is already in the T26 design) but the carriers highly likely i would reckon, especially on them exposed towers.

  4. Good. The more we get out of our existing limited numbers of warships the better.
    Now just got to find a few bob to fit MK41 vl strike length cells to these beauties.

  5. I know the design for the batch 2 River OPV’s included ballistic protection over the magazines and I believe fuel tanks. Sounds like they realised that the structure this protection was supported by was vulnerable to the type of damage the armour was supposed to protect from.

  6. What i don’t get is the UOR part.

    What am I missing, what urgent threat has occurred that suddenly makes this upgrade an UOR rather than routine upgrade.

    Could this be an indication that there are more problems to the t45 than just the engines cutting out? It’s all a bit odd

    • Yes I was just thinking that too. ‘Urgent operational requirement’. If you need urgent ballistic reinforcement that says to me they are expecting to take fire. Where are they going and who are they fighting????

        • Considering BAe claims that the government didn’t specify that they needed to operate in warm waters (who knows if true or not) it is entirely possible that they also forgot to include water with waves.

          It is absolutely insane that some one either in BAe or the MOD failed to spot that the water can be warmer in some places in the world and that these waters may be the areas we have had wars in for a hundred years or more.

          • I mean a single person could easily make this make, so easy to happen, but with a 6 billion pound contract, it is not possible that a huge committee of people were not involved and it is beyond reality that none of them spotted this. I don’t understand why a few dozen civil servants weren’t sacked for this or even more.

          • (Chris H) Steve – You paraphrase two false assumptions to sarcastically peddle your obvious dislike of BAE. The intercooler system was a Government not BAE decision for commercial / political reasons which were right at the time. The fact that the Northrop – Grumman part failed to work as presented is neither the Government’s or BAE’s fault. They did envisage ‘warm water’ operations and believed it had been catered for. A supplier in the USA let them down. That is all there is to it

            As for your slightly childish comment about no one thinking about ‘waves’ is best left right there – in the childish category.

            Excuse my being direct but simplistic and smartarse comments from armchair heroes about highly technical and capable ships and equipment makes a bit of a red mist descend ….

  7. It has occurred to me that Diamond is mentioned in the article. She was the T45 that had to curtail her deployment to the Gulf late last year due to a propeller shaft problem. I can’t see any indication when this extra protection was fitted, so I wonder if it was fitted last year prior to her aborted deployment and that deployment was the UOR?

    • This is possible, didn’t the QE also have prop problems, could there be a weakness is a core part that requires fixing.

      • I am not aware that Diamond’s and QE’s prop issues are related, nor does it sound like this ballistic protection has anything to do with propulsion, though it is frustratingly vague in the description. It does sound like deployment to the Gulf had something to do with its fitting, though.

      • QE’s prop issue was nicely outlined on Chris Terrils recent documentary about her, not that I can remember what it was though 🙂

        • I’m an ignorant twat but I did see the recent tv documentary, please excuse my lame text.

          Basically, the shaft coming out of the motor is held in place by giant clamps, one of these clamps developed a crack. Whilst it was still connected (only cracked) the prop worked BUT started “wobble” and cause vibrations.

  8. pirates, or terrorists on boats.

    I doubt they were spec’d for littoral warfare.

    the wave part is likely so they don’t break in high seas and become a flying hazard. they maybe replacing previous armour which was less robust, and the waves just knackered it too quickly, or increased weight of armour/coverage meant they had to stand more water pressure on the same fixtures, thus needing some flex to deflect the energy.

    we need a naval intelligence guy really…which I’m sure is the start of a joke.

    • Seems unlikely. The t45 are spending a huge amount of time in port or docks and you would think they were expected to spend way more time at sea where there are heavier waves.

      Either way, all t45 are going in for major refits shorty to solve the engine problem, why not do this then. What 8e the urgency, something must be not right.

      • If George wrote this article, why didn’t he translate all the vague gibberrish into plain language? What threat & what protection please?

  9. It’s for the ballistic protection plates around the GMPG and mini gun positions. Every RN vessel gets it even the MCMV force. They are f ken heavy and some such as the flight deck positions need to be portable . You put then up for entering /leaving harbour and down for flight ops.
    They basically improved the design because it was not robust enough.
    UOR is quicker and easier to do and as its for Force Protection you can get away with dumping the cost into a contingency budget.
    To do it as an A&A ( additions and alterations) could take 12months or more to approve and fit.

    • The RAN has been doing a similar thing for its ANZAC frigates when they deploy to the Middle East on anti-piracy operations to protect the crew against possible small arms fire.

      In the pic of HMAS Arunta you can see the additional ballistic plates around the bridge and where the central GPMG mounts are fitted for close protection.

      There is typically also additional plates above the helo hangar where the 50 cal mini-typhoon remote mounts are.

      Their slightly different grey paint colour and obvious bolt-on fixing points are the give away in the image.


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