The UK Ministry of Defence's ability to prepare for future networked operations has been boosted through the opening of a new modelling and simulation facility at Qinetiq's Farnborough site in Hampshire. A joint venture between the research and technology house and Boeing Defence UK, "the Portal" can be linked with more than 700 laboratories in Australia, the UK and the USA to support experimentation.

Opened on 11 July with a demonstration involving live, virtual and computer-generated entities including simulated BAE Systems Harrier GR9 ground-attack aircraft, the facility will also support the business activities of its partners, says Boeing facility director Shane Arnott. This includes work to de-risk a joint bid to perform the Project Eagle mission system upgrade to the UK Royal Air Force's Boeing E-3D Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft.

Comprising a main theatre, two experimentation laboratories and debriefing and control rooms, the Portal is capable of providing video, voice and data feeds in unclassified or secret modes, enabling industry and the MoD to practise large-scale manoeuvres - including urban operations - using current and emerging technologies. "The facility is independent of any one project," says Arnott. "It is part of a package to provide early engagement with the MoD."

The Portal 
 © Qinetiq

Established in response to the MoD's Defence Technology Strategy, the Portal can be connected with Boeing's LabNet infrastructure of more than 700 laboratories, plus Qinetiq and UK government sites, and could also in the future be linked with live training ranges. "It is how widely the Portal is connected that makes a big difference," says Qinetiq business development director for command and intelligence systems Jeremy Ward.

Boeing and Qinetiq - declining to reveal the level of investment made in the new infrastructure - already collaborate on the Mission Training through Distributed Simulation demonstration at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire (Flight International, 29 May-4 June). Planning for the new site commenced over a year ago, and studies have been performed using its equipment since March. The partners continue to address technology transfer issues related to the US government's International Traffic in Arms Regulations legislation, but Arnott notes: "We now have a boilerplate level for future work."


Related stories

RAF demonstrates networked training concept

UK MoD outlines 20-year national research and technology plan


Source: Flight International