The newly released Land Industrial Strategy sets out a vision for future collaboration between the Ministry of Defence (MOD), specifically the Army, and industry. The strategy has several areas of focus that are covered below and it also sets out eight integrated transformation priorities for the land domain, including: evolved Digital Backbone; long-range ISTAR; long-range Fires; Air and UAS Defence; Next Generation of Combat Systems; Next Generation Aviation Systems; Soldier Lethality, Human Optimisation and Automation; Synthetic Training Environment.

Significantly, the strategy commits to the Army to a 20% minimum weighting on social value for future contracts, which will help to demonstrate the value of investing in the Army and defence in general. This is significant as the recent MOD spending settlement expires in 2024/25.

Modernisation of equipment

By 2035 the Army aims to rationalise the current military arsenal, bringing down the number of land platform types from 35 to 15. This will reduce the numbers and fleet variation, while allowing for modular, connected, and adaptable equipment.

Along with UK Strategic Command and Defence Digital, the Army intends to develop an open architecture approach to allow seamless data to move across the land domain. This will support the development of new technologies and provide support for Multi-Domain Integration and interoperability with allies.

The strategy sets out the adoption of category management and agile methodologies to reduce complexity across mission systems. Land Integrated Operating Service (LIOS) arrangements will allow for this by incentivising through-life performance updates and upgrades.

Seeing as though a significant amount of the UK Armed Force’s current inventory has analogue technologies, closed or bespoke architectures, updating the fleet has become a must due to its limited capacity for growth and evolution.

Next generation of land systems

The strategy recognises that Science and Technology (S&T) is an area that has become increasingly important for developing strategic advantage, reinforcing the UK’s commitment to increase R&D investment to £6.6bn and the Army’s hope of developing ‘game changing’ technology. Not needing to be a leader in all key areas, the strategy acknowledges that the UK will share the burden with allies, offering mutual benefits for all parties.

The MOD wants technologies to mature fast through R&D. To combat this the MERCURY program will be introduced; allowing the Army to express a common goal for these capabilities, and investment leading to them. Industry can then align its plans to these capability goals and timelines, thus providing a clearer connection between technology investment and future projects.

Skills and capabilities

With £41.3bn of investment into Land equipment and support over the next ten years, the strategy believes there is an opportunity to enhance the UK’s land domain, post COVID, while supporting the transition to net zero.

The Army and DE&S (Defence Equipment and Support) will develop and adopt a Land Industrial Strategy Objectives Framework (LISOF), ensuring the MOD will use agreed decision criteria drawn from the LIS strategy objectives when making programme and project investment decisions.

The Army has committed to a portfolio approach, the outcome being a comprehensive investment plan that solidifies the Army’s investment pipeline over a 20-year horizon. This will be shared with industry during 2022 and will be updated following Annual Budget Cycles and Spending Reviews.

A Land Enterprise Working Group (LEWG) will be established between MOD, industry (including SMEs {Small or Medium sized Enterprise}), and academia. Its objective will be to promote meaningful dialogue across a range of topics including confidence building measures; visibility of capability goals, roadmaps, and investment plans; and technology investment priorities.

International collaboration and exports

A cross-government Land Capability Campaigns Office (LCCO) will help support export campaigns between UK industry and international partners. It will be augmented by a new Army Industry & Exports Office, ensuring exports become part of the Army’s routine activity. Importantly, it will also provide advice on export considerations at the outset of a project, helping SROs (Senior Responsible Owners) shape user requirements and set suitable export objectives.

MOD has stated that implementing LIS will require a multi-year programme of activities from both industry and MOD. The progress will be monitored through the LEWG. A set of initial Confidence Building Measures have been created, which will be refined in further cooperation with industry. ADS stands ready to support the activities of the LEWG and to help make the LIS a success.