Nine-Years, £110 Million
The UK MoD has invested £110 million (€129 million) in the Defence Strategic Radio Services (DSRS) programme for Strategic Command, the Ministry announced on 16 September.
DSRS uses the Earth’s ionosphere, part of the upper atmosphere, to allow radio signals to be sent and received across thousands of kilometres. This allows communications to be rapidly delivered across a variety of domains to service personnel, regardless of whether they are on land, in the air or at sea. The new communications service removes the traditional requirement for direct-line-of-sight between transmitter and user. Members of the armed forces will be able to communicate more effectively and faster in notoriously challenging terrain, such as urban, mountainous or jungle areas.
Awarded to Babcock, the nine-year contract will support around 150 jobs across England, Scotland and three of Britain’s overseas bases.
“It is vital we have a range of robust communications options available to us, including satellite, internet and high frequency, to offer commanders and decision-makers in the field the information they need at the speed of relevance […] As we see a continued rise in threats to our security in the cyber and electromagnetic domain, our network resilience is what will give us the competitive edge against our adversaries,” observed Gen Sir Patrick Sanders, commander of Strategic Command.
The new system will also be critical for flight safety communications to all military aircraft, while additionally supporting the ‘Mayday’ fallback facility for the wider UK aviation community. While used by the armed forces, the radio system will also support civilian tasks when required, including mountain rescue and civilian aircraft emergency communications.
DSRS works across all single-service capabilities and can be integrated with the communication systems of global allies, improving the UK’s ability to command and control its forces worldwide.
Babcock Chief Executive, David Lockwood, explained that DSRS “builds on our extensive experience and knowledge in this field. In collaboration with both our partners and customer we will work together to deliver a secure, resilient and advanced solution that will ensure DSRS users receive assured services, in support of the critical operations they perform, that are fit for today and ready for tomorrow.”