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Formula 1 Technology Revs up British Army Tanks


Telford, UK – BAE Systems has turned to the motor racing industry to capture ‘best of breed’ technology for current and future armoured fighting vehicles.

British troops are facing determined and innovative adversaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, which means that vehicles have to be modified very quickly when a new threat emerges. BAE Systems Land Systems has responded to over 80 UORS (urgent operations requirements) in the last 18 months, mainly to provide better protection for vehicle crews.

Motor sport has been identified by the UK Ministry of Defence as a potentially valuable source of appropriate technology and rapid processes for this sort of high-stress, high-reliability, rapid-turnaround engineering.

For instance, there are many parallels between the demands of endurance races such as the Paris-Dakar event and armoured vehicles operating in hot and dusty climates.

“Car racing technology looks promising for refuelling military vehicles in dusty conditions,” says BAE Systems’ head of vehicle support Mike Pope. “And scout vehicles on ‘silent watch’ could benefit from the latest lithium-ion batteries, which are now lower-volume, higher-power and more reliable. We are also interested in low-cost LED lighting technology, with its low power consumption, and high reliability.”

BAE Systems is also keen to bring the latest technology to future programmes, such as the key £16bn Future Rapid Effects System. FRES will equip the British Army with a fleet of medium-weight armoured vehicles with the protection of heavy armour but the deployability of lighter equipment.

Engineers and procurement people from BAE Systems’ Land Systems business met Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) members at a Telford networking event on 27 September to identify how the defence and motor sport industries can work together better.

This is the second event in response to Minister for Defence Equipment & Support Lord Drayson’s request to build relationships between the two industries. The first event was held in May 2007 at the BAE Systems Leicester site. The link with the MIA has already resulted in high-efficiency radiator technology being adopted for armoured vehicles.

BAE Systems also has an eleven-year technology partnership with McLaren Mercedes which has resulted in significant cross-fertilisation in areas such as aerodynamics and rapid engineering.

The MIA represents a wide range of motor sport companies in the UK from F1 teams to small engineering and consultancy companies. They supply cutting-edge technology and dominate the production of cars and components to top racing formulae in the USA.

Approximately 4,000 companies are involved in the UK motorsport manufacturing industry and its support activities. The engineering sector of the industry has an annual turnover of ₤2.9 billion.


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