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Thales receives first LMM order for UK MoD

5th April 2011 - 16:08 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Thales UK have agreed on a ‘re-role’ to allow the signing of the first production contract for the company’s Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM).

According to a statement released on 5 April, the company and the MoD have ‘re-directed’ funds from another project that Thales was previously contracted into, which was either of less importance than the LMM project or nearing completion.

The missile is being integrated in a maritime role as the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon Light (FASGW(L)) missile on the Royal Navy’s new Wildcat Lynx helicopter.

When asked if LMM had been deemed to be more important than the project the funds were being redirected from, a Thales spokesperson said that LMM was considered an essential capability. ‘It is sufficiently important to get it to this stage,’ the spokesperson told Shephard.

She said because the UK defence budget was ‘tight’, and the opportunity for new funding therefore difficult, the solution was an ‘innovative approach’ to finding money for important projects. However, the MoD did not wish the project that the funds were taken from to be publicly revealed.

Production for the MoD’s LMMs is due to start in 2012, with an initial delivery of 1,000 systems expected in 2013 and an in-service date of 2015.

The multi-role missile, which is being developed under the Team Complex Weapons (TCW) agreement, will enable the UK to have a single family of weapons that can take on different roles.

‘LMM is unique in that it’s the first lightweight weapon family to be specially designed to have a wide range of operational roles,’ David Beatty, managing director of Thales UK’s Belfast facility, where LMM will be manufactured, said.

‘The main [export] interest is coming from land, sea and air platform suppliers who are keen to have the lightweight, low cost and operational versatility that LMM can deliver.’

The TCW agreement between the MoD, MBDA, QinetiQ, Roxel and Thales UK was signed in 2006, with the purpose of providing an ‘innovative method’ for the MoD and industry partners to deliver the UK’s complex weapons.

Complex weapons are defined by the MoD as ‘tactical weapons reliant upon guidance systems to achieve precision effects’. They fall into five main categories: air-to-air; air defence; air-to-surface; anti-ship/submarine (including torpedoes); and surface-to-surface.

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