The news comes as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has vowed to increase defence spending following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, placing NATO members on high alert in the process. As a major contributor to the Ukrainian defence forces, Britain has been continually threatened by Moscow, with Russian state TV going as far as suggesting nuclear weapons should be used against the UK.
British-based Babcock’s latest deal with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and its subsidiary Elta Systems is aimed at providing a long-range radar for the Defence Ministry’s Serpens programme.
Serpens is a “Next Generation Weapon Locating System” (NGWLS) project, introduced by the UK MoD in 2018.
Speaking of the chosen name at the time, an MoD official said: “‘The programme has been rebranded as Serpens this year to reflect the broader capability that will be delivered as a result of its integration with Zodiac.
“It sits as a constituent part of the Land ISTAR Programme.”
The new deal with Israel has seen Babcock sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the initial stages of the project.
The Serpens is a locating system with a digitally networked suite of sensor systems that detect hostile mortars, artillery and rockets.
The programme is valued at £400m and will see the UK aim to replace its current capability, the Saab-supplied Mamba, around 2026.
The Swedish company was awarded a £46 million deal in 2020 to extend the life of the program until Serpens is ready for deployment.
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The collaboration will offer IAI-ELTA’s highly capable, and battle-proven Compact Multi-Mission Radar (C-MMR) system, which will be partly produced and integrated in the UK.
The C-MMR is designed for air defence and artillery weapon location missions, with the radar locating hostile weapon locations and calculating impact and launching points in real-time.
The radar implements advanced 3D-active electronically-steered array antenna technology.
The MoU between Babcock and IAI-ELTA will boost sovereign radar experience and expertise.
It will provide Babcock with the opportunity to further prove its system integration and through life support pedigree while also developing its radar assembly and maintenance expertise.
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Dr Richard Drake, Babcock’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with IAI-ELTA to provide a deep find radar solution for the UK Ministry of Defence’s SERPENS programme.
“Babcock is proud to provide class-leading technology to our customers and with IAI-ELTA’s battle-proven C-MMR system, we have a capable, affordable and available solution.”
Ronald Cook, IAI UK Managing Director, added: “This agreement between IAI and Babcock demonstrates our commitment to the UK.
“We are bringing together the brightest minds in the industry to combine world-class technology with our commitment to UK prosperity.
“We are proud to partner with one of the UK’s finest companies in the industry to provide our cutting-edge C-MMR to the UK market.”
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Late last year, Britain and Israel signed a 10-year defence pact promising cooperation on issues such as cybersecurity and a joint commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Israel sees Iran as an existential threat over its nuclear programme, something Tehran insists is solely for peaceful civilian use.
Signed by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, speaking at the time, she said the two countries would “work closer” to defend themselves in cyberspace whilst Tel Aviv would become a Tier 1 partner for the UK and gain greater access to British markets.
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