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New Body Armour And Life Saving Changes to Battlefield Ambulances Top X-Factor


Improving the effectiveness of body armour for the armed forces and developing new manufacturing technology for the Joint Strike Fighter are among some of the groundbreaking innovations proven to have the X-factor at a BAE Systems awards ceremony in the United States.

The winning entries which received a 2008 Gold Chairmans Award and topped a field of 3,800 nominations from around the world are as follows:

New production technique for world’s biggest combat aircraft programme.

Production engineers at BAE Systems facility in Samlesbury, North West England, have developed a new type of cutting tool to machine the complex aircraft surfaces on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s horizontal tail hinge spars.

This dramatically improves the way the components are manufactured producing the surfaces 16 times faster than any other process currently available. It helps reduce the overall time taken to machine complex aircraft components on titanium or steel surfaces reducing overall production costs and improving quality. The innovation is estimated to deliver cost savings in the region of £10 million per 1,000 aircraft helping to keep the UK at the cutting edge of manufacturing.

Delivering life saving medical care

By modifying a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, engineers at BAE Systems facility at its York production site in the US have pioneered life saving modifications to the US army’s battlefield ambulance. It’s the only vehicle capable of safely transporting those wounded in combat, while giving protection from the threat of advanced IED (improvised explosive devices) in the battlefield.

The team worked with medical experts to improve key areas of the vehicle including the integration of an innovative step mechanism at the rear that converts to a ramp to help streamline the immediate evacuation and treatment of wounded soldiers. The modification is already saving lives with 128 MRAP ambulances already deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Delivering new body armour to frontline forces

The team at BAE Systems in the US has designed and developed a more effective body armour vest to help protect the lives of frontline troops. The Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) has been chosen as the standard issue body armour system for the U.S. Army. Previous designs proved awkward, had limited mobility, were overly heavy, inaccessible for medical treatment and had limited body coverage.

The newer, lighter vest incorporates a quick-release mechanism that allows for swift removal in an emergency. When compared to previous designs, the IOTV increases protection by providing additional body coverage and enhances weight distribution.

Pioneering social science in the battlefield.

The Human Terrain System (HTS) was developed in response to joint urgent operational needs statements from United States Central Command to satisfy gaps in commanders’ understanding of local populations and culture. It aims to maximize the effectiveness of operational decisions by linking them to the local cultural context. The HTS program team is recognized for its initiative in proving the concept and ramping up the program from one team in 2006 to multiple teams by mid-2008.

The program helps reduce lethal operations through improved understanding of local behaviour. HTS teams provide research in support of deployed units, giving brigade and regimental commanders relevant social and cultural information and knowledge

Better business modelling could reduce future costs.

Employees at BAE Systems throughout the UK have developed an innovative range of Business and Solution Modelling techniques that have saved industry and the UK MoD millions of pounds by more accurately predicting the future costs and performance of long term contracts, in some cases anything up to 20 years ahead.

The method uses a comprehensive range of computer based modelling and analysis techniques to optimise the performance of military equipment support contracts and assess the impact of future factors on costs. It has been successfully used on a number of BAE Systems programmes including Tornado and Harrier contracts and it helps give a clearer understanding of the impact of business decisions long before they are actually made. The modelling can be applied to any industry and has for the first time been migrated to BAE Systems operations in the US, demonstrating the company’s commitment to sharing best practice across its global operations.

Improving the process of technology.

The BAE Systems manufacturing team at New Hampshire in the US has transferred a method of best practice called Demand Flow Technology into their manufacturing environment. This aims to ensure that customer demand is more closely aligned with production in the factory and supply chain. This helps reduce overheads while increasing the rate and quality of the product.


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