Icarus: enhancing survivability of British Army Vehicles

16 November 2021

Providing the best protection for our armed forces is of paramount importance to the Ministry of Defence and the UK industrial base that supports it. The exploitation of the latest scientific innovation plays a key role in achieving this objective.

Despite advances in armour and mobility, the survivability of any military vehicle is enhanced greatly if it can first reduce the chances of being targeted and then mitigate the threats posed by guided and unguided Chemical Energy threats in the form of Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and Anti-Tank Guided Weapons (ATGW).

With this in mind, the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) commissioned Leonardo to lead and deliver the ‘Icarus’ Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) in 2017.

Under the Icarus TDP, Leonardo has led a team of UK industry experts and academic institutions (Abstract Solutions, CGI, Frazer-Nash, Lockheed Martin, RBSL, Roke and Ultra Electronics) with the objective to develop, demonstrate and verify a Modular Integrated Protection System (MIPS) architecture, based on open-systems and model-driven principles. The headline strategic intent of this is to provide:

  1. The architectural and infrastructure foundation for the modular and layered integration, affordable acquisition and safe deployment of ‘best in class’ Active Protection System (APS) sensors and effectors
  2. The basis for UK sovereignty, ownership of the APS control system and management of threat library, which is critical to the development and maintenance of future UK operational Capability Assurance.

Key Outcomes

At DSEI in September 2021, Leonardo announced that the Icarus TDP had successfully trialled and demonstrated a MIPS protection system approach at the MOD Shoeburyness range in Essex in July. The trial provided a comprehensive test of the ability of the MIPS-based sense, control and reaction sequence to respond appropriately to threats within extremely short timeframes.

As a result of the Icarus TDP and successful system trial, several critical infrastructure technologies have been characterised through the integration process. Additionally, we have enhanced the knowledge base related to APS in the UK, which has led to a better understanding of the drivers on APS system performance and the trade space related to delivering that performance and effect; certainly within the tight response times and the fact that this dictates a high-degree of automation of the response. The trial has also demonstrated that a modular solution – based on open-system and technology – can be configured to detect and respond to threats within the necessary timeframe.

Key, specific outputs and accomplishments from the TDP are:

  1. Creation of a MIPS open-system architecture and model-driven MIPS system control solution
  2. Development of interfaces to a synthetic environment, enabling creation of MIPS system implementations and subsequent progressive system validation through a combination of synthetic and physical (hardware in the loop) testing
  3. Establishment of a MIPS architecture and system data model defining the data flows – both internal and external to the MIPS system
  4. Generation of a draft MIPS Standard forming the basis of a future NATO STANAG (4822 entitled ‘Land DAS Architectures’). The draft Standard has been briefed to and reviewed by a wide range of international APS stakeholders and subject matter experts within the international APS Community of Interest that was established under the programme.
  5. Development of a draft Modular Dependability Case framework
  6. Creation of a reference MIPS System Integration Laboratory (SIL) capability that can be used to develop and test system control algorithms and threat response tactics, as well as integrate and test sensors and effectors both virtually and physically
  7. Verification of behaviour and performance of the MIPS control and architecture through field trials, employing a combination of representative and surrogate sensors and effectors that were adapted to interface into the MIPS architecture
  8. Definition of a MIPS through-life capability roadmap and acquisition strategy to transition MIPS capability into operational service and thereafter evolve the capability on a spiral, threat-driven basis.

A fundamental element of the programme’s success has been the open, agile and collaborative nature under which it has been led and delivered by Leonardo; both with Dstl and the TDP industrial team members.

Moving forward

Additional work is now being undertaken to:

  1. Understand and establish the implications with respect to the MIPS architectural, system model and draft Standard that would arise from the broader application of MIPS to deliver advanced future capabilities
  2. Inform potential future extension of the UK’s Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) Standard to include safety and security elements necessary to enable MIPS to interface with the platform Communications and Information System (CIS). This will facilitate further development of collaborative, systemic protection strategies and sharing of broader situation awareness.

The next phase of the MIPS capability roadmap will be a maturation phase to develop the MIPS infrastructure and control system solution in order to enable MIPS capability delivery into platform programmes and thereby pave the way to satisfy UK MOD’s strategic aspirations in respect of UK sovereignty and capability assurance.