BAE Receives 2 FRES Vehicle R&D Contracts from UK
BAE Systems have been awarded contracts by the UK Ministry of Defence for a Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) Chassis Concept Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) related to hybrid engines and based on BAE Hagglunds advanced SEP vehicle, plus a FRES Gap Crossing TDP for combat bridge-laying.
These acquisitions are part of the FRES Integrated Technology Acquisition Programme (ITAP), which is focused on reducing risk around the latest technologies and their integration into FRES. This program is intended to provide the British Army with a family of medium-weight, network-enabled, air-deployable armored vehicles to meet up to 16 roles. FRES is intended to be the central pillar of a capable and highly deployable medium force that will be able to project power rapidly world-wide, complementing the UK’s existing heavy and light forces. In this respect, it fills a somewhat similar niche to the USA’s Stryker vehicle family, and to the Phase 3 Land Vehicle segment of the USA’s $120+ billion Future Combat Systems experiment.
The BAE Systems Chassis Concept TDP will build on work done on the successful Swedish SEP program. SEP is a family of modular vehicles, utilizing emerging technologies like hybrid drives and allowing different role modules to be configured with either a wheeled or tracked chassis. The purpose of the TDP is to examine the ability of the electric drive system developed for SEP to meet the requirements of some or all of the envisaged FRES roles.
The BAE Systems Chassis TDP effort will be led from facilities in the UK in close co-operation with BAE Systems colleagues in Sweden, and will be focused primarily on reducing risk to allow a successful transition to the next phase. Note that per our in-depth FRES coverage, the General Dynamics’ Advanced Hybrid Electric Drive (AHED) 8×8 vehicle is being used in a similar Chassis Concept TDP.
The BAE Systems Gap Crossing approach is based upon the company’s bridging technology and light bridging concepts. With additional support from semi-private British R&D specialists QinetiQ, the TDP will focus on a new light-weight assault bridge based on 2 designs: a stretched version of current technology, and a new design using hybrid materials. Both designs aim to provide better bridge packaging for air transportability, plus fast under-armor deployment, recovery and re-deployment.
BAE Systems is currently the leading provider of equipment and support to the British Army, and is responsible for over 95% of all the armored vehicles currently in service there. They will work closely with the FRES Integrated Project Team and with Atkins, the FRES Systems House (overall program manager and integrator).
In its ancillary comments to editors attached to its corporate release, BAE noted that the awards support the aims that UK MoD has expressed in its recently-published Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) to see BAE Systems Land Systems evolve its business “to bring advanced land systems’ technologies, skills and processes into the UK.” The firm also sees this contract as:
“…a step along the way of meeting BAE Systems’ aspiration to take the leading role in the FRES programme. The company is evolving its land systems business in partnership with the MoD, to ensure it is in the strongest possible position to achieve this. “