One of my hobby horses is that of commonality, or usually, the lack of it. Before I start ranting it should be recognised that commonality can go too far but wherever possible we should be absolutely ruthless in our approach to equipment across equipment and the services. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force use the SA80 so why do we often fail to realise the immense benefits of standardisation in many other areas?
Airborne sensor turrets are a good example, these are not the highly integrated system like that installed on the Apache attack helicopter or RAPTOR pod but those which equip transport helicopters or UAV’s.
L3 Wescam MX15
One of the most widely used sensor turrets the MX15 in its various guises has equipped a number of UK aircraft.
Selex Galileo Titan 385ES
Another product the MoD has stumped up development cash for, the Titan 385 is an advanced system designed for a range of aircraft.
Thales and Elbit formed a joint venture called Unmanned Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS) who of course selected the Elbit COMPASS system for Watchkeeper.
Fitted to Army Watchkeeper UAV
Northrop Grumman Night Hunter
Arguably much less capable than the MX15’s fitted to the MR.2’s the Night Hunter was ordered in 1997 and although the MRA4 has of course been cancelled, no doubt there is a shed somewhere with twenty or so looking for a home.
Fitted to Royal Air Force Nimrod MRA4
Remote Optical Target Acquisition System
This uses the Thales Catherine thermal imaging camera which is also fitted to the Scimitar formation recce vehicle.
ROTAS is fitted to Talisman Mastiff ‘Protected Eyes’ and the Supacat Jackal ISTAR
No doubt there are differences between these but do those differences justify the inevitable duplication of maintenance and training required to use and support them?
Have we invested in systems only to buy others?
Would be interesting to find out!