By B.C. Kessner

FARNBOROUGH, England–The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD) said yesterday it was launching a $147 million assessment phase teaming agreement for procuring complex weapons.

“We are embarking on an innovative approach to purchasing our next generation of missiles and guided weapons,” Baroness Taylor, Minister for Defense Equipment and Support, said here.

Team Complex Weapons is the new partnership among the MoD, MBDA, Thales, QinetiQ and Roxel. Taylor said the team would help maintain the U.K.’s key skills and technologies in missile development and protect operational sovereignty in the sector.

The assessment phase is worth about $147 million for the first year and launches six projects backed by two initial framework contracts awarded to MBDA and Thales.

The projects include MBDA-led Fire Shadow Loitering Munition; Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy); 50-Kilogram Weapon; Future Local Area Air Defence System – Maritime; Storm Shadow; and Thales’ Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Light).

The Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy) is for Royal Navy helicopters and is a lead-in to a 100-kilogram family of weapons.

The Future Local Area Air Defence System–Maritime is for the T23 Frigate and the Future Surface Combatant incorporating the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile.

Storm Shadow will be an upgrade for the Tornado GR4.

Success of the assessment phase should lead to the majority of future U.K. complex weapons being included within the scope of a long-term partnering arrangement and enable the optimum use of about $12 billion in expenditures in this sector over the next 10 years, Taylor said.

“The formal launch of Team CW represents a radical and new approach to the delivery of battle-winning military capability to the U.K. armed forces,” Steve Wadely, industrial chairman and managing director of MBDA U.K. said.