On 10 December, QinetiQ announced a £9million ($11.2million) contract extension to add the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ class aircraft carriers to the Naval Combat Systems Integration Support Service (NCSISS) it provides in partnership with the Royal Navy (RN). The service, created in 2012 and delivered by QinetiQ and BAE Systems in collaboration with Defence Equipment & Support, removes risk in the development, integration and testing of ship mission systems and enables the RN to deploy and take full advantage of the latest technologies.
“The success of the NCSISS has enabled us and our partners to ensure the UK Royal Navy’s surface fleet is at peak operational performance at all times. Receiving confirmation of the contract extension which includes the largest warships in the Fleet demonstrates the unique capabilities, resources and expertise we have a Portsdown Technology Park,” says Steve Fitz-Gerald, QinetiQ Managing Director of Maritime, Land and Weapons. “It is also very timely news as we progress with our plans to extend our capabilities and create a truly world class centre for innovation, integration and testing of Maritime Missions Systems,” he adds referring to the £23million ($28.8million) redevelopment project announced earlier this year to create a new Centre of Excellence for Maritime Missions Systems in Portsdown, near Portsmouth.
In addition to the work already carried out on all RN’s surface fleet platforms’ Combat Management Systems and weapon control systems, the contract extension for the flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, and its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will also cover a range of advanced communications systems for the planning and delivery of joint air and maritime activities and other critical operations. Engineers from QinetiQ and its NCSISS partners will use the sophisticated shore based test environments at Portsdown to evaluate the complex mission systems of the two Carriers to minimise the amount of testing on the platforms themselves and to maximise their operational availability and deployment.
Jo Osburn, Head of Maritime Combat Systems at Defence Equipment and Support said: “Extending the NCSISS arrangement to include the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ class Aircraft Carriers has provided a facility to test and assure new capabilities ahead of instillation into the platform. QinetiQ’s role in supporting the Combat System Enterprise through NCSISS will enable agile Operational Support to this new class of warship for her current equipment, as well as de-risking the addition of the new systems and equipment planned in the near to medium term."
QinetiQ’s new development programme at Portsdown Technology Park is being undertaken in partnership with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and will include the formation of a new Innovation and Collaboration Hub for other specialist maritime businesses. Construction and refurbishment work is due to begin on the site in 2019 . Following an earlier NCSISS contract extension, QinetiQ engineers at Portsdown are already undertaking test and evaluation programmes for the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 Global Combat Ships, which are due to enter service in the 2020s.