MoD extends and adds £230m to Navy ‘combat management systems’ deal

Agreement with defence contractor BAE, first signed in 2022 and lasting up to a decade, covers the support of various components that are intended ‘to provide situational awareness and lethality’

The Ministry of Defence has added about £230m and a potential extra five years to the value of an existing long-term deal for the support of “combat management systems” for the Royal Navy.

The contract was awarded in late 2022 to a sub division of  major defence contractor BAE Systems. At this point, the deal – which was scheduled to run for an initial five-year term, plus three potential further one-year extensions – was valued at about £345m, once VAT is included.

Inn a newly published commercial notice, the MoD has updated the terms of the deal, which will now run for at least eight years, with the option of a single two-year extension. Alongside this lengthening to a possible term of a decade, expected spending via the contract is now pegged at £480m, plus VAT – which equates to £576m.

The deal covers “in-service support of combat management systems” (CMS) for the Royal Navy, as well as “shared infrastructure” (SI) jointly operated by BAE and the military. This covers technology installed on various “Royal Navy platforms, land-based test sites and training sites – as well as the installation of SI Version 3 on Type 45 destroyers”, according to the contract notice.

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“A CMS is a multi-layered system, comprising of component parts, products and individual equipment which all work together to provide situational awareness and lethality to the operator,” the document adds. “The CMS covers: CMS software and hardware; and hosting infrastructure through SI and combat system networks. CMS equipment is made up of a series of discrete sub-systems, fully integrated together to provide the interface from which operators can achieve a platform’s decide and enable capabilities. Integration and configuration management is performed at the system level to ensure interoperability across the respective sub-systems.”

The deal was not open to a competitive bidding process, but was awarded directly to BAE via a negotiated procedure. The MoD claimed that this was justified because the defence firm designed the systems in scope of the contract “and is the only supplier with the appropriate level of system design and configuration knowledge to meet the requirement”. Even if an alternative provider were available, “the CMS operates using proprietary software which the [ministry] does not have the right to share with a third party”, according to the notice.

“Therefore, use of any third-party support supplier would increase the complexity of sub-system alignment and integration, increase the difficulty of assigning responsibility for identification and rectification of equipment failures, and present an unacceptably high risk of compromised safety management,” it adds. “[BAE] is the only operator that has the technical expertise and know-how… to carry out obsolescence management and modifications to ensure uninterrupted equipment availability, interoperability and underwrite such modifications from a safety perspective.”

PublicTechnology contacted the Ministry of Defence requesting comment on the extension and additional spending via the contract. The ministry was yet to respond at time of going to press.

Sam Trendall

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