By Ian McConnell

THE Ministry of Defence has awarded a £180 million contract to deliver cutting-edge threat-detection technology for the British Army’s new Boxer vehicles which it says will protect more than 700 jobs at French-owned Thales UK’s Glasgow site.

It added that the 10-year remote weapon stations (RWS) contract would also support 30 apprenticeships.

Describing the technology, the MoD said: “It uses a 360-degree, high-definition long-range camera attached to the outside of the vehicle to scan for enemy threats, even when Boxer is moving at speed. The RWS then alerts soldiers inside the armoured Boxer through a digital display – so they can keep a permanent watch outside while remaining safely inside the vehicle.”

It added that the system also “offers key defensive capabilities, including a multi-barrel smoke grenade launcher, thermal imaging, and infra-red pointers".

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Steven Lockley, managing director of Thales UK’s vehicle integration business in Glasgow, said: “Thales’s sub-contract is a great step forward after months of hard work. Working with our strategic partners, Thales is bringing new skills and technologies into the programme, our facilities in Scotland and the UK supply chain.”

Minister of State for Defence Baroness Goldie said: “This £180m contract with Thales UK will deliver pioneering surveillance and protection for our front line soldiers and our new Boxer fleet...This order will secure 700 Scottish jobs. 

“Our troops face a myriad of new and emerging threats so it is imperative we invest in critical detect and destroy technology such as this.”

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The UK rejoined the Boxer programme in 2018 and has committed £2.8 billion to deliver more than 500 vehicles to the British Army. The first vehicles are scheduled to be ready for service in 2023.