QinetiQ provides UK Royal Navy with an efficient and highly effective transportable stealth management solution
Maritime Platform Systems are part of the MOD’s Ship Operating Centre which is responsible for the acquisition and deployment of new ships such as the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship along with supporting the Royal Navy’s ships that are in service.
One of the many roles of Maritime Platform Systems is to provide the UK Royal Navy with in-theatre stealth management ranging services to ensure the optimum signatures performance of its in-service ships and submarines.
This case study explores the delivery of transportable ranging services by QinetiQ Stealth Information & Range Services to support Royal Navy minehunters operating in the Middle East.
Requirements for the ranging of the fleet are clearly defined by the Royal Navy and includes both what work needs to be done and when the work is required based on operational needs, whether it be pre-deployment at fixed ranges or during deployment, as in the case of minehunters on active duty. Ranging services that are required includes:
- Radar cross section
- Hull vibration monitoring
- Total mine simulation
Minehunters in active service, which are usually deployed in-theatre for around two years, require regular and comprehensive checking of their magnetic, acoustic and hull vibration signature wherever they are deployed. Working with QinetiQ, the MOD has set up a programme to carry out regular assessments using QinetiQ’s transportable stealth management ranges.
In this case the work is being done every six months for four minehunters in the Middle East. Britain has maintained a permanent minehunter presence in the region since 2006, initially two ships and since 2008 a four-strong force.
“This in-theatre ranging service is part of the Operational Signature Services contract awarded to QinetiQ by the MoD to provide for stealth performance assessment and optimisation for the UK Royal Navy,” commented Rob Wild, Project Manager, Operational Signature Services, MOD.
The challenges to the MOD in delivering an efficient, effective and value for money in-theatre ranging service to the Royal Navy minehunters include:
- securing the time and availability of all four minehunters at the same time
- getting the equipment including the transportable range to the testing destination and managing all the associated logistics
- building the local (in-country) infrastructure support where the ranging will take place including security , energy provision, accommodation and office space
- ensuring the availability of specialist technical service providers such as divers to manage the placement of the in-water devices & equipment
- delivering in-theatre operational training and ensuring the safety of the substantial team involved in the ranging including both MoD staff and supporting staff from industry
The role and value of QinetiQ Stealth Information & Ranging Services
QinetiQ has extensive experience in stealth management built on many years of providing services across the entire spectrum of stealth performance assessment and optimisation. These services can include the use of a wide range of equipment, facilities and software including transportable and UK based fixed ranges.
“QinetiQ have been providing a transportable ranging service to the MOD for many years. The service includes managing all the associated and wide ranging logistics in getting the equipment into theatre, managing the subcontractors such as the divers and providing the specialist, knowledgeable and highly experienced QinetiQ staff who carry out the ranging tests, interpret the results and make suggestions on how the stealth performance of the minehunters can be improved,” said Rob Wild.
The minehunter ranging services have been delivered every six months since 2007 in Bahrain. QinetiQ’s transportable ranges have also been used in Oman, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Portugal, and Denmark.
As part of the service, QinetiQ deliver:
- a fully equipped transportable range capable of measuring magnetic and acoustics signatures
- the setup on site and take down of the range including laying it in water, providing the ranging vessels and all associated transportation
- providing over twelve specialist staff to the location including electro-magnetic ranging analysts, acoustic ranging analysts, hull vibration monitoring equipment technicians and project management
- the on-board inspection of the minehunters equipment and briefing of the crew prior to ranging
- management of the subcontractors
“Prior to carrying out the ranging we get very detailed plans from QinetiQ which identify potential risks up front. In addition they are very good at providing an interface with the ships in a clear and precise fashion, informing them why they are getting the ranging service and the benefits they will be delivered,” said Rob Wild.
A pre-ranging on-board equipment inspection is carried out by QinetiQ which allows for the identification of defects and the checking of settings to maximise the value of the ranging tests before they begin. In addition QinetiQ provide on-board specialist staff during the ranging to identify issues and provide advice and guidance on minimising acoustic and magnetic signatures. This ensures that the Royal Navy get full value from the tests and are able to take rapid corrective action.
“QinetiQ provide a comprehensive stealth management service which is very flexible to accommodate constantly changing circumstances. QinetiQ are very good at swopping around programmes to meet the limited time available. They are also good at identifying solutions to issues found on the boats affecting the signature,” commented Rob Wild.
The equipment that QinetiQ provide is constantly being improved and maintained to the highest standard. In addition QinetiQ provide a ready to go fully equipped range control office which is also shipped to the location.
“During the ranging QinetiQ provide rapid and comprehensive interpretations of the data generated by the tests and set about working on the development of solutions in real time,” said Rob Wild.
About QinetiQ Stealth Information & Range Services
QinetiQ’s Stealth Information & Range Services are delivered to navies and naval constructors around the world. We are a world leading provider of services that support navies in their drive to make their ships and submarines harder to detect by one or more of radar, visual, sonar, and infrared methods. Our knowledge and understanding of stealth management has been accumulated through working with a wide range of vessels over more than 25 years.
Today we operate all the UK Royal Navy’s signature measurement facilities around the UK including transportable capability and are able to plan and deliver complex multi-asset trials. We have measured and analysed the acoustic and magnetic signature of every class of UK Royal Navy ship and submarine for over half a century. From the all the testing and evaluation we have carried out we have built up and maintain a comprehensive set of data. QinetiQ are the UK MOD’s trusted expert on the setting of future signature targets.
QinetiQ can provide fully instrumented tracking and bespoke customer trials packages at dedicated test facilities supported by a number of specialist transportable facilities. These can be deployed to provide assessment, advice and analysis in areas such as electronic warfare, weapons and sensor testing and optimisation.
QinetiQ have provided services for navies and governments around the world including Canada, Greece, Lithuania, Estonia, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Norway.
Our services are built on a range of stealth detection and threat assessment capabilities including radar cross section, noise and vibration, target echo strength, electro magnetics and electronic warfare calibration supported by an extensive range of facilities, state of the art equipment and software delivered by highly skilled and knowledgeable engineers. We cover the entire lifecycle of a ship or submarine from concept development through to in-service.
Maintaining a safe working environment is of critical importance to us in all testing and evaluation activities. QinetiQ have a knowledgeable and experienced team of safety specialists, with the resources to support major projects across all domains.
- Stealth Design & Optimisation Services - ensuring that in the design of new ship and submarine programmes the stealth performance requirements are considered and met
- Platform & Stealth Evaluation Services - supporting the successful introduction of new and refitted ships and submarines into service
- Platform Readiness Services - optimising naval and airborne trials programmes to reduce time to platform service in a safe and secure working environment
- Operational Stealth Services - supporting in-service ships and submarines to measure and optimise their stealth characteristics
“I am very pleased with the service that QinetiQ provide. The whole transportable ranging solution is delivered efficiently and effectively. They deliver a service I can trust from beginning to end. They understand the world of signatures intimately and know how to help us in the achievement of our goal which is to help make our ships stealthy and fit for purpose, “said Rob Wild.