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DSEI 2021: Icarus completes first phase

15th September 2021 - 07:45 GMT | by Andrew White in London

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According to Leonardo, MIPS comprises ‘open-systems and model-driven principles which form an architectural and infrastructure approach to ground vehicle protection'. (Photo: Leonardo)

Milestone achieved in Icarus programme for the British Army, which integrates electronic and physical protection technologies to equip vehicle crews with an active/passive protection suite.

The UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and industry partners led by Leonardo have successfully completed the first phase of the Icarus Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP), which aims to design a new protection system approach for armoured vehicles.

The news was confirmed at DSEI on 15 September following significant delays caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, programme officials confirmed to Shephard.

The Icarus TDP was initiated several years ago to develop a Modular Integration Protection System (MIPS) integrating electronic and physical protection technologies to equip vehicle crews with an active/passive protection suite.

According to Leonardo, MIPS comprises ‘open-systems and model-driven principles which form an architectural and infrastructure approach to ground vehicle protection that supports the modular integration, affordable acquisition and safe deployment of best-of-breed sensors and countermeasures to deliver UK operational independence’.

A company official added: ‘This includes sensors and soft protection systems that focus on early threat detection and attempt to disrupt, decoy or spoof the incoming threat and hard countermeasure systems to intercept and physically defeat the incoming weapon system, known in military terminology as a “kinetic effect”,’ a company official confirmed.

Speaking to Shephard ahead of DSEI, Ray Hopkins, Leonardo programme manager for the Icarus TDP, described how the first phase of the TDP had culminated in a live fire trial in July.

This trial at Shoeburyness in Essex provided a comprehensive test of the ability of MIPS to sense, control and respond appropriately to threats within extremely short timeframes.

During the trial, MIPS featured a pair of Rheinmetall ROSY obscurant solutions, RADA radar equipment and thermal cameras from Leonardo. The company said its solution was attacked by RPGs at a range of 100m in addition to ‘mass countermass weapons’ designed to mimic anti-tank guided weapons, as well as 50-cal ammunition.

‘The trial was deemed to be successful by the customer,’ Hopkins suggested before describing how the main effort of the TDP to prove the MIPS modular architecture worked and could respond to a threat in a suitable timeframe.

As Hopkins explained, MIPS has been designed to allow the UK MoD to select any agnostic sensor and effector and integrate them into a unified active protection system suitable for ground vehicles.

'The UK wants the ability to deploy defence systems in accordance with our tactics, techniques and procedures against threats as we see them to provide the best means of defeating them against the constraints of legal backdrops,' Hopkins added.

As a result of the TDP, a draft MIPS standard has been produced and issued to the MoD with a NATO STANAG also being pursued in the future.

‘We now have a defined capability roadmap and acquisition strategy for the MoD,’ Hopkins added.

Hopkins confirmed to Shephard that Dstl is now considering a second phase of the Icarus TDP, which would focus on the maturation of MIPS although no decision has yet to be made by the MoD. Future areas of interest could include C-UAS and counter-ISTAR capabilities.

The Icarus team also included Abstract Solutions, CGI, Frazer-Nash, Lockheed Martin UK, RBSL, Roke and Ultra Electronics.

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