CATS Beginning 20-Year Run in Britain

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Mirach target(click to view full) The UK Armed Forces face a wide variety of aerial threats, with variables that include speed, stealth, and flight profiles. Attack helicopters can have a speed of zero, for instance, while some anti-ship missiles can exceed Mach 3. Air-to-air practice targets for RAF aircraft have a very different profile than wave-skimming anti-ship missiles. Consider, too, the difference in regulations and safety procedures: an aerial target’s rocket-assisted takeoff may require environmental waivers on land, but ship launches turn it into a safety issue. The approach to date has been for individual services to buy individual target drones, but the results weren’t entirely satisfactory. Could the UK’s emerging approach of long-term public-private partnership for government service delivery be used to provide an overlapping set of targets that would meet the needs of all 3 services? It was a risk; both the solution’s definition and its mode of delivery were new, and hence relatively untested. At the same time, it was an attractive idea. The process began in September 2001. In December 2006, QinetiQ signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to supply a Combined Aerial Target Service (CATS) over 20 years, under a contract […]

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