The UK defense ministry has awarded a £45 million ($52.2M) contract to an industry team for the development of a digital protection system for soldiers, vehicles and UK military bases against improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Dubbed project Crenic, the undertaking will see UK military experts collaborate with small and medium businesses during the next five years.
The project will develop equipment designed to be carried by soldiers, fitted to vehicles and protect military bases by detecting and disrupting explosive devices using advanced techniques across the electromagnetic spectrum.
The team of companies that will be working on the new system includes PA Consulting, Leonardo, Leidos Innovations UK, and Marshall Land Systems.
An integration laboratory facility will also be established to support the development of the system. The laboratory will promote innovation and experimentation as the new capability evolves against emerging threats.
First deliveries of the new equipment for vehicle and soldier carried systems for use on operations are due to take place in 2026. Equipment will be incrementally deployed and will evolve to meet the needs of the British Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force land forces.
“Our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting and securing our nation. As the technology used by our adversaries to threaten our people and operations evolves, we are innovating to stay ahead of the challenge,” defense procurement minister Alex Chalk said.
“This project brings together pioneering UK technology and industry to create a world leading protection system for our armed forces.”
The new system will be supported by the Defence Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) Architecture, which uses a common set of hardware and software open technology standards, equivalent to desktop computers and cellular phone software, to allow for wider industry participation and support reconfiguration for other military uses. This will allow the armed forces to modify the solutions in the future and allow for greater collaboration with allies.
Using the Defence CEMA Architecture, project Crenic will enable information to be shared across multiple domains, making it the first capability to directly support multi-domain integration. This means information only needs to be collected once and can then be used many times. The project is expected to support electronic warfare in the future, including countering remotely piloted air systems.