Collins Aerospace Secures Inertial Sensor Contract for UK’s Future Weapons Platforms

The UK has awarded Collins Aerospace a contract to develop a navigation-grade inertial measurement unit (IMU) to support the government’s Weapons Sector Research Framework for future weapons platforms.

The agreement calls for the construction of a tactical grade or “Class A” IMU using Collins Aerospace’s Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology.

Collins will collaborate with the UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on the initiative.

Work will take place at Collins Aerospace’s engineering and manufacturing facility in Plymouth and with the firm’s Advanced Technology Team in Bristol.

The new MEMS-based IMU technology will be utilized for guidance and navigation on multi-domain platforms.

It is expected to perform with a lower cost and smaller form factor compared to existing ring laser and fiber optic gyro solutions, according to Collins Aerospace.

“Complex weapons of the future require a higher grade of IMU navigation capability that can withstand harsher environments,” Collins Aerospace IMU Value Stream Leader Stuart Cooper said.

“Over our 100-year history in Inertial Systems design, Collins has delivered hundreds of thousands of IMUs to both the military and commercial markets.”

“Our forthcoming multi-year relationship with DSTL will provide enhanced capability to our users worldwide.”

Inertial Measurement Unit

IMUs, also known as inertial sensors, are devices for measuring the altitude and force of an object in relation to its acceleration and motion.

IMUs are used to trial and operate vehicles, ammunition, safety ejection platforms, and unmanned systems.

They have an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer to read all inertial measurements of an object.

Previous Contract for Weapons Sector Research Framework

In 2020, DSTL selected the UK-based defense technology firm Qinetiq as the main contractor for the Weapons Sector Research Framework.

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The five-year, 300-million-euro ($300 million) contract called for Qinetiq’s support in managing research and development for the framework and its sub-programs.

Qinetiq collaborated with MBDA and Thales on the framework.

“As the science inside UK defence and security DSTL’s research delivers clear military and strategic advantage for our armed forces,” DSTL Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead explained.

“We reduce risk to our forces by delivering technology with increased effectiveness and range.”

“The WSRF (Weapons Sector Research Framework) brings together our key partners, SMEs and academia to develop the solutions defence and security need in a fast evolving world.”