British Army Air Corps soldier with Bowman comms (Crown Copyright)

Morpheus: Next-Generation Battlefield Comms

Defence Secretary Boosts Welsh Jobs on Visit to Aston Martin and GDUK

The Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, today announced a £330 million contract to design the next-generation of battlefield communications on a visit to Wales. Sir Michael also formally handed over the St Athan ‘Super Hangar’ to Aston Martin.

Both the Morpheus battlefield communications contract with General Dynamics UK (GDUK), and Aston Martin’s investment in St Athan will create and support a thousand jobs across south Wales.

£330 Million Investment in MOD’s New Morpheus Programme

Visiting the General Dynamics UK (GDUK) site at Oakdale, the Defence Secretary spoke of the MOD’s new Morpheus programme, a £330 million investment in innovative new tactical communications systems for our Armed Forces, which will support 250 high-tech jobs in South Wales.

What is the Morpheus Project?

Morpheus is a defence project that will deliver the next generation of Tactical Communication and Information Systems (TacCIS) capability. It will address critical system obsolescence and introduce a more agile TacCIS solution (both technical and business). This will enable emergent technology to be rapidly exploited for user benefit, will be more responsive to changes in user need, and will realise efficiencies in the way in which TacCIS capability is acquired and supported.

British Army Morpheus battlefield tactical communications, Sir Michael Fallon with Alun Cairn MP, Oakdale, by Patrick Olner (Crown Copyright)

British Army Morpheus battlefield tactical communications, Sir Michael Fallon with Alun Cairn MP, Oakdale, by Patrick Olner (Crown Copyright)

Battlefield Communications Strategy

In November 2014 the Battlefield Tactical Communications and Information Systems (BATCIS) delivery team released an acquisition strategy paper outlining the approach for the future procurement of Morpheus. This approach included a 2 part assessment phase (AP):

AP 1: tasked with identifying and characterising a range of viable acquisition options (consisting of a business model, transition plan, and architecture options), based on the principal approaches of ‘Sustain’, ‘Evolve’, ‘Replace’.

AP 2: tasking a delivery partner to undertake a detailed design of the acquisition options proposed during AP 1, with a supporting recommendation to take forward to a development phase.

In September 2015, BATCIS announced an acceleration of the approach in recognition that ‘Replace’ did not represent a viable option and that there was a need to evolve the current system through the support of a transition partner and other suppliers, to deliver an open agile system, termed Evolve to Open (EvO).

Aston Martin Takes Over MOD Super Hangar

While in Wales, the Defence Secretary handed over the former MOD Super Hangar to Aston Martin at a special ceremony at St Athan. The redevelopment of the site into a state of the art manufacturing facility for the British luxury carmaker will directly create 750 new jobs in South Wales, and support thousands more as production starts in 2019.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon speaking at St Athan

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon speaking at St Athan to handover the former RAF site to Aston Martin. Crown Copyright.

Speaking at General Dynamics UK’s Oakdale site in South Wales, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

This £330 million contact for the next generation of battlefield communications, supporting 250 high skilled jobs, underlines the importance of Wales to our Armed Forces.

Backed by a rising defence budget, last year MOD spent £870 million with Welsh businesses helping to build a stronger economy and keep Britain safe.

As well as investing in new equipment we are also investing in a Better Defence Estate for our Armed Forces. Aston Martin’s decision to build a new facility on land we no longer need will bring more high skilled jobs to Wales.

This state of the art communications system will be integrated on to the Army’s new Ajax vehicles, currently under construction by GDUK, and allow British troops to rapidly deploy new radios and applications to connect with commanders and allies. The system will also be used by the RAF and Royal Navy on a range of platforms, and provide our personnel with modernised command and control networks they need to keep Britain safe.

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns said:

Wales is quickly establishing a strong reputation as an important hub of high skilled manufacturing. General Dynamics UK has long been instrumental in putting Wales on the front line when it comes to supporting our country’s defence and security needs.

And thanks to the close partnerships between the UK Government and the prestigious Aston Martin brand, the St Athan site is springing back to life as a significant centre of employment, bringing with it valuable skills and a lasting legacy for the entire region.

 Today’s announcements are testament to this Government’s determination to strengthen every part of the United Kingdom, and are a strong indicator that Wales is open for business, open for trade, and open for investment.

Ajax Investment

The MOD is investing £3.5 billion in Ajax, which will be in service with the Army from 2020. With new innovative equipment like Ajax and Morpheus, and new ways of working the Army of the future will be able to successfully tackle a wider range of threats and keep the UK safe.

Army Chief Information Officer, Major General Richard Semple, said:

Becoming the owner of architecture for MOD’s tactical command and control systems is critical to getting up-to-date, ever evolving, battle-winning technology into the hands of our soldiers, sailors and airmen on operations; this is a critical component of digital transformation in the Army and Land Environment.

The Defence Secretary also met with some of GDUK’s apprentices, who play an important role in the Defence Industry. The MOD is the largest provider of apprentices in the UK, enrolling 14,200 new apprentices across the Armed Services and in the civil service over the last year, and is committed to encouraging defence suppliers to support apprenticeships across their business.

Source: MOD (Crown Copyright, OGL); Morpheus Project (Crown Copyright, OGL).

Featured Image: British Army Air Corps soldier with Bowman comms during leadership training course in 2016 (Crown Copyright).

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