Contract puts Crowsnest on the horizon
A £269 million deal for a new cutting-edge, helicopter-borne surveillance system has been awarded by DE&S.
The contract, with Lockheed Martin, will see the start of manufacturing on the new Crowsnest system designed to protect Royal Navy ships, including the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Crowsnest will act as the eyes and ears for the Royal Navy, providing long range air, maritime and land detection and tracking capability.
The announcement for Crowsnest was made by the Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, in January on board the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon.
Speaking at the event, Air Vice-Marshal Graham Russell, Director Helicopters at DE&S, said:
“Crowsnest is an essential capability for the Royal Navy, providing an airborne early warning system designed to protect their ships. Fitted to the Merlin Mark2 Helicopters, Crowsnest will also be vital in protecting the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.”
“DE&S, in particular the Merlin Project Team, has played an integral role in delivering this contract to time and on budget, thus protecting the in-service date and coherence with the wider Carrier programme. Once in service, we will continue to support this capability throughout its service life.”
Crowsnest will be fitted to the Merlin Mk2 helicopters, which already perform a number of important roles for the Royal Navy, including detecting submarines and undertaking humanitarian aid duties.
Chief Executive Officer at DE&S, Tony Douglas, said:
“Crowsnest will play a key role in protecting the Royal Navy’s future fleet, acting as the eyes and ears for the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. This state-of-the-art project will demonstrate how we are providing world-leading, innovative equipment to our Armed Forces.”
“This contract will also sustain hundreds of UK jobs in the process, highlighting how the MOD, through DE&S, can create a positive and collaborative partnership with industry, benefitting both our Armed Forces and the UK economy.”
Crowsnest is an important step in the ambitious carrier programme and will form an integral part of the Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) capability, which will deliver the two Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers — the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy — from which the UK’s new F-35 Lightning II jets will fly.
Under the deal with Lockheed Martin, Thales UK has been subcontracted to provide the system, work on which will sustain over 200 UK jobs in Crawley, Havant and Yeovil.
Lockheed Martin, as the prime contractor for Crowsnest, will integrate the selected Thales solution on to the Merlin Mk2 helicopter fleets. This work will be supported by Leonardo Helicopters, who will modify the fleet to fit Crowsnest. The contract also includes £9 million for initial provisioning of spares to support the Crowsnest system during training and operational deployment.