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Defence

DE&S procures EOD robots from L3 Harris for British Army

New high-tech Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Remote Controlled Vehicles are to provide greater protection for soldiers and the public under a new deal negotiated by DE&S on behalf of the British Army with Tewkesbury based L3 Harris Technologies.

Image courtesy DE&S

Fifty T4 EOD RCVs will be able to be used in situations of improvised explosive devices and hazardous material disposal, helping the EOD team who attend thousands of call outs every year, all over the country. This will greatly reduce the risk to service personnel and the public when neutralising bomb and chemical threats.

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Adept at navigating narrow urban spaces, with its tough all terrain treads and adjustable manipulation arm, the T4 can operate in narrow aisles of planes, trains and buses and is able to climb stairs.

Advanced controls, high-definition cameras and lightning-fast datalinks will enable the operator of the T4 to perform complex tasks like unzipping bags and opening glove boxes from a safe distance.   

The Specialist and Autonomous Mobility delivery team within Soldier, Training and Special Programmes at DE&S has placed a £21 million contract with L3 Harris Technologies – based in Tewkesbury – which will see the first T4 units delivered before the end of 2024.

Project Manager Jonathon Armstrong, said: “Collaborative working with the Army and industry means we now have a highly capable system that will keep the UK MoD a world leader in Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search. Used alongside other capabilities, this system will protect the UK public and help keep our EOD operators safe in the performance of their duties.”

Weighing in at just over 100kg, the T4s are significantly smaller and nimbler than their bigger brother – the 300kg T7 UGV – and will be used as the rapid response system for emergency situations as its compact size means it can be transported in a standard 4×4 vehicle.

However, both models use ‘advanced haptic feedback’ which allow operators to ‘feel’ their way through the intricate process of disarming devices from a safe distance, reducing the risk to life of the EOD operators.

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The contract for the systems, which underwent rigorous testing, include an initial three years of in-service maintenance and repair support.

Major General Lizzie Faithfull-Davies, Director Land Equipment at DE&S, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the project team at DE&S, who have worked with their industry partner to harness available cutting-edge technology and have identified a critical capability that can respond to hostile explosive threats and help in keeping the wider general public safe.”

The UK Ministry of Defence are ensuring that our Armed Forces have the best kit available, and we have recently announced plans to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence by 2030 – meaning an additional £75 billion spent over the next six years.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said: “Procuring this high tech robot means that we can provide our forces with the tools they need to safely handle a range explosive threats. Rapidly delivering uncrewed systems, like the T4, that ensure our armed forces can safely face future threats is a key part of our Drone Defence Strategy.”

The T4’s will enter service with the 29 EOD & Search Group and the Diving Threat and Exploitation Group, Royal Gibraltar Regiment (RG) and Cyprus Operational Support Unit (COSU).

Ed Zoiss, President, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris, said: “The T4 EOD robots are the world’s most capable robot for operations in crowded and difficult environments like subways, airports and even hospitals. We’re honoured to continue working with the UK Ministry of Defence as they provide this technology to the British Army.”

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