Delivering the UK military’s operational priorities across air, land and sea will require an innovative and robust approach to procurement and ongoing support in all areas of defence spending, as budgetary pressures mount.
Within the land environment specifically, significant shifts are planned, with the Support Partner Transformation Contract (SPTC) ending in 2025 and Land Integrated Operating Service (LIOS) taking effect the same year. This will involve a case-by-case review of all systems, platforms and equipment categories as they transition into through-life support arrangements that aim to deliver a step-change in platform availability and through-life performance via more frequent updates and upgrades.
“Through life capability management (TLCM) and planning is ever more prevalent in the land environment, because the new land vehicle platforms have been or are being procured,” says Leonardo UK’s Head of Sales, Electronics, Jan Boyes. “Meanwhile, we are also seeing a consolidation of the entire fleet, taking it from more than 30 different platforms to fewer than 20, in order to reduce complexity and expenditure.
“Since LIOS is about how new and enduring UK platforms will be supported, there must be a focus on how to drive efficiencies in the procurement of spares, new capability, Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO), and post-design services, as well as having a smart way of managing support to our vehicles to increase vehicle availability through outcome-driven contracting.”
As a company, Leonardo has a history and high level experience across domains of saving money through support, MRO and training, allowing funds to be reinvested into enhanced warfighting capability for the UK.
“We have a thorough understanding of the output and operational requirements, including transforming and developing a flexible supply chain and support network that delivers these. By reducing the overall support costs, money can be invested in through life capability,” explains Leonardo UK’s VP Sales, Ian Hayhoe.
“This has been achieved through Leonardo’s significant investment into digital information technology, in order to understand and manipulate MOD and industry data to best effect.”
One such example is the Typhoon Total Availability eNterprise (TyTAN), which has delivered a 40% cost-saving over the 10-year budget through greater consolidation and efficiency in the supply chain, and ultimately allowed money to be reinvested into the new capability such as the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk2).
Another programme following this model is the AW159 Wildcat helicopter Integrated Support and Training (WIST) contract where Leonardo’s focus is on improvements in planning, maintenance and training, adopting a joint approach to equipment support, asset management, digital tools and configuration capability.
“This expertise developed through TyTAN and WIST will be increasingly important in the land environment as budgetary constraints tighten,” says Jan, pointing to Leonardo’s ability to provide upgraded support, enterprise transformation, and long-term improvement and sustainability capabilities.
“We have invested in digital toolsets around asset and people availability, along with tools and algorithms that enhance decision-making capability by understanding performance and reliability data of equipment. We can manage all the configuration controls of the inputs and vehicles (relating to maintenance of vehicle equipment), and we have people who are skilled and trained in enterprise transformation in the support environment. These are all skills that are transferable from the transformation activities that we have done in the air, fast jet and rotary domains,” adds Ian.
Another key consideration in planning is demand forecasting – taking information sources from partners, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and MOD – and then creating information advantage by allowing this data to determine what spares, consumables and commodities should be purchased. This in turn should inform how you ensure platform availability, output and training for operations.
However, the transition from the Afghanistan-type of approach, dealing with insurgencies, to the Ukraine-Russian conflict, which requires far greater reliability on force projection, adds a layer of difficulty to planning, says Ian.
“In our experience, the customer knows what they want, but not how to deliver it, given the complexity of the current supplier network. Additionally, they need to improve training effectiveness, platform availability, understand configuration and deliver capability of equipment in a very uncertain operational environment.
“Through life capability and support focuses on understanding that extant capability in ever-changing environments, such as urban warfare or desert combat, so that you have the right equipment in the right place at the right time,” he says.
Recognising that introducing new capability, enhanced training, efficient investment and effective planning are crucial principles of 21st century military campaigns, collaboration between the end-user and industry is the overarching factor that ties all these elements together.
Leonardo has a strong capability in terms of value change mapping, solution design and partnering with other organisations. Ian explains: “It’s about working as a collective so that everybody gains benefits as a result of reduced cost and throughput of current supply capability. We have achieved this through understanding each stakeholder’s long-term approach, in order to develop the appropriate commercial models for a common operational output and solution.”
“The customer will get better results through collaboration with industry, and by developing joint understanding of the operational challenges and solutions to overcome them,” continues Ian. “This will concentrate energies on essential activities and improve operational effectiveness to address challenges such as new platforms coming into service without support solutions or significant obsolescence, and availability of training and vehicles.”