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QinetiQ Appoints Contractor to Deliver Composite Technology Mast

  • Monday, 20th September 2004
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

QinetiQ has selected Babcock Design & Technology (BD&T) to work with them to deliver the advanced technology mast by September 2005.

The collaboration follows QinetiQ’s major contract win in December 2003 to provide an advanced technology communications and radar mast for the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal.

Rosyth-based company, BD&T, will refine QinetiQ’s global mast design to produce final detailed and workable drawings before going on to manufacture and deliver the mast within deadline. To help them do this they have subcontracted to Engineered Products, who will manufacture the mast and fit the composite panels. The panels will be supplied by QinetiQ’s own specialist Composites and Polymeric Materials department located at QinetiQ’s headquarters site in Farnborough, Hampshire.

The outer skin of the mast will be made from frequency selective or ‘tuned’ composites and will allow radar and communications equipment to ‘see out’. Despite their sophistication the skins can be manufactured using existing and well-established shipyard techniques. This means that large structures can be built at reasonable initial cost and, because of low maintenance and easier equipment upgrades, go on to be significantly cheaper throughout the life of the vessel.

The mast will carry a wide variety of radio frequency transmitters and receivers. These will range from essential systems such as radar through to those carried for purely entertainment purposes such as televisions and radios. Whereas equipment on conventional steel masts is externally mounted and fully exposed to the weather, on the Advanced Technology Mast it will be enclosed within the structure so totally protected. Because the mast will be virtually maintenance free and lighter and stealthier than conventional masts, long-term costs will be substantially reduced.

QinetiQ has been working on advanced masts in support of the Royal Navy since 1992 and this MOD funded development is an excellent example of taking ground-breaking research right through into front-line service. QinetiQ firmly believes that advanced technology masts are likely to become common place on future warships.

Derek Barnes, Managing Director of QinetiQ Future Systems Technology Division said: “”We are very pleased to have won this contract, which builds on many years of MOD funded development. It is a clear demonstration of the pull through of ground breaking research into front line service and is recognition of QinetiQ’s ability to act in the role of Lead Systems Integrator for such projects.””

The advanced technology mast is due into service in late 2005 and is likely to become common place on future warships.

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