Advanced defence technologies take centre stage
Among the highlights of Raytheon UK’s technology and innovation conference held last week was a demonstration of its Overseer platform and discussion of its tactical penetrator warhead – a key component of the company’s advanced technology programme.
Funded by internal seed funding, the Overseer has been in development for the last five years and continues to be spoken of as a potential upgrade platform for the Royal Air Force’s Sentinel R1 aircraft.
The ISR mission system is sensor agnostic and compatible with maritime, ground vehicle and airbourne platforms. Raytheon say it has been designed specifically with ISR training and ISR customers in mind, with users able to analyse multiple data sets within one program.
Outlining the development of the tactical penetrator warhead, chief engineer for weapons systems, T.J. Marsden, explained that the product had been developed to replace any potential capability loss from the Tornado fighter-bomber being taken out of service by the MoD. Marsden also confirmed that the warhead had been through its demonstration phase and is now into its qualification stage.
Beyond a focus on ISR and weapons technology, the event included a set of panel discussions centering on how to create a culture of innovation in the UK and what role collaboration could play in addressing aerospace and defence challenges.
Industry experts were particularly agreeable on the need for innovation to stimulate growth and acknowledged research and design environments should provide a ‘safe space for people to fail’.
As the subject of Brexit was raised, OEM representatives made their bottom-line clear: Maintain membership of EASA and hold firm on the unrestricted movement of UK citizens to and from Europe. One panel member went so far as to say that without access to existing resources, funding and R&D capital ‘we don’t function properly’.
Taking a slightly different approach, one source further down the supply chain opined that the UK should concentrate on sourcing a greater array of products and services domestically and export to the international defence market.