Innovation within the British defence industry relies on its close partnership with the UK military. FINN editori-in-chief Alan Peaford takes a look at some of the latest technological developments in the British defence industry.
The UK Capability Showcase is headed up by 20 British army personnel seconded to the UK Defence and Security Exports, part of the Department for International Trade. The showcase features a range of products from counter UAV, drones, low level parachutes and medical triage systems.
Captain Guy Baker, Artillery Adviser, Department for International Trade explained: “Our role is to assist UK industry in effectively exporting UK-born products to overseas governments, overseas ministers and overseas armies and we assist those companies in any way we can.”
Improving casualty management on the battlefield
WO2 Ian Wells, Infantry Adviser for the Department for International Trade explained how casualty management on the battlefield was changing to benefit from the efficiencies offered by digital technology. He said: “It’s a much better a system, in my opinion, because people’s handwriting differs and the language that people use to communicate injuries is different and it can cause miscommunication and confusion.
“An electronic method where each soldier is fitted with a barcode, you scan the barcode, the computer system knows that individual and it knows any allergies they have or any specialist medical conditions that they have.”
Once scanned for triage, the computer gives a range of options as well as information on that injury and how to deal with it. Wells added: “Once it’s in that server it automatically goes to the next level of medical care and the casualty evacuation team. The casualty evacuation team know where you are because the system also populates your location and sends it to them. As well as that, it has an aide memoire in there so it’ll tell you how to treat things like burns, gunshot wounds, so you’re not carrying 157 different bits of paper and trying to scratch through your notebook to find your casualty aide memoires.”
Bringing down hostile drones
As well as vertical take off drones offering a higher payload, the showcase also featured methods of dealing with rogue drones. WO2 David Cree, SMIG UAS/C-UAS, Department for International Trade, said: “We’ve got the handheld device and we’ve got the vehicle mounted device and it does it through firing a projectile with compressed air.
The projectile is fired when it gets to a certain range that’s already pre-programmed by the systems you see behind me, the net will open up and capture that drone and place it on the deck. There’s two types of projectiles that are used, one with a parachute allowing it to fall to the ground nice and gently and then we’ve got one without a parachute so we’re capture it in a net and bring it to the ground.”
Sustainability and decarbonisation are not just hot topics within the civil sector, they are also a key focus for the defence sector as well.
All terrain vehicle is as quiet as a milk float
WO2 Ian Rathbone, Combat Engineer Advisor for the Department of Trade, said: “This is the electric all-terrain vehicle from Supacat – it’s low emissions, green energy, the vehicle itself is very stealthy in operations. It’s only 70 decibels in volume, it’s got very low heat signature so it’s good for tactical insurgence into enemy locations.”
The vehicle has a range of 110 kilometres and takes around four hours to fully charge a battery. It has a top speed of 50 kilometres an hour.
But with electric vehicles comes the issue of recharging – especially in remote or inhospitable locations. The showcase also featured products which could create and provide the power for rechargable units, without requiring connection to the grid.
Rathbone added: “What we’ve got over here is the Grian Volta solar power generation unit. It’s deployable within 30 minutes of touchdown and using this piece of kit, we can actually power up the eco charger quad.
The charger can also link to other Grian solar generation units to power larger locations.