This project and its associated dynamic pre-qualification questionnaire (DPQQ) constitute a process to better inform the authority as to the existence of technologies, and their respective capabilities, that may deliver effective aerial surveillance, for the purposes of UK AD, in airspace affected by wind turbines.
It must not be inferred that a procurement will follow the paper-based feasibility study or any demonstration conducted. However, those candidates, or technologies represented by those candidates, that show sufficient promise may be considered further for evaluation and any possible future procurement.
The authority’s overarching requirement is to mitigate the unwanted adverse effects resulting from wind farms on the UK’s current and future AD aerial surveillance systems. Wind turbines, when in Radar Line of Sight (RLOS) impact on the AD Primary Surveillance Radars (PSRs) the UK currently uses to deliver a Recognised Air Picture (RAP); these PSRs are reaching the limits of their wind farm mitigation capabilities. With the expected proliferation of wind farms, especially offshore, and the increase in their respective footprints and individual turbine dimensions, the challenges represented by, inter alia, increased false alarms and reduced probability of detection, which then impair situational awareness, will only increase. The authority, therefore, is seeking to improve its knowledge of those technologies, and their respective performances/capabilities, which may be fielded to improve AD aerial surveillance, focusing not only on current generation windfarms, but also the larger next generation developments consisting of turbines with a tip height of up to 350 m/1150ft Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL) located at all ranges but especially out to 70NM from the coast.
Notwithstanding that the UK currently relies on a combination of PSRs and Secondary Surveillance Radars (SSRs) to deliver its surveillance picture, and that a dependence on PSRs is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, including following a replacement or augmentation of the extant radars, the authority is ‘solution agnostic’, at this stage, over the types of technology that may provide the mitigation sought.
Other than a requirement that the candidates put forward must:
— be at least at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 at the point of demonstration to the MOD (see definition of TRLs at Annex A to the associated DPQQ),
— have a realistic prospect of reaching at least TRL-7 as a result of the demonstration envisaged,
— conform with relevant health and safety and other mandated standards (e.g. Radio frequency licence).
The method by which mitigation is achieved, however, remains open.
With the overarching requirement that full AD capability is delivered, proposed solutions, therefore, may be designed as:
— a complementary augmentation system that enhances the performance of existing/future PSRs,
— an alternative source of data for the ‘host PSR’ within defined contexts, zhich may be geographic regions (eg an infill) or other operating conditions, or
— a total replacement system for the PSR (eg a different PSR or a novel sensor) with the capability to meet the full gamut of surveillance requirements.
Paper-based feasibility study
The authority will analyse the responses to the DPQQ with a view to possibly inviting ‘Potential Providers’ to demonstrate their respective systems, either as part of a Concept Demonstration (CD) conducted by MOD at an MOD site, or under alternative arrangements as proposed within individual responses; follow-on demonstrations are subject to confirmation.
The authority intends to review the responses to the DPQQ between 3.2.2020-14.2.2020 and, if required, may pose clarification questions to the respondents on the submissions received.
Once the qualified proposals have been identified and demonstration dates are known, a nil-value framework agreement will be released to successful candidates, which will need to be signed and returned before potential providers may participate in any future demonstrations, be they under the envisaged demonstration plan or alternative arrangements further into the future. The framework agreement will cover only the demonstration of technologies herein described and will not encompass any future MOD acquisition programme.
The possible demonstration
Although the timing and venue of an MOD-run Concept demonstration (CD) have yet to be confirmed (see further discussion within the DPQQ), the Authority is looking to offer those proposed solutions it wishes to investigate further the opportunity to demonstrate at an MOD-site overlooking the North Sea. Current assumptions are that the CD may occur between mid-March and late-July 2020, allowing for MOD to view as many candidate solutions as practicable to be demonstrated consecutively; each being offered between 1 and 2 weeks notionally to take part (some tolerance may be afforded dependent on the number of systems demonstrating). Although mitigation of onshore wind farms is relevant, the Authority is especially interested in offshore wind farm mitigation, particularly against developments out to 70 NM from the coast, and will look for evidence of each solution’s (potential) performance against such a target development; such evidence may derive from modelled as well as live data. The MOD’s preferred site (currently) for the CD is RAF Staxton Wold, which has a view of the Westermost Rough and Humber Gateway wind farms (around 30 – 40 NM distant). These, then, would be used for demonstration purposes, accepting that they possess smaller, more-dense footprints, with lower tip heights and are nearer to the coast than some of the new generation developments would be. The MOD’s expectation is to provide dedicated flight trials aircraft to overfly one or both wind farms (to be determined) looking for the solution to exhibit the necessary detection, tracking and discrimination of genuine airborne contacts, as well as rejection of unwanted wind farm-generated clutter and other effects. Potential providers are reminded that the solution(s) sought are for AD purposes, which requires a system ultimately to deal with non-cooperative aircraft, which may be fast-moving, low in Radar Cross Section (RCS) and conducting high-g manoeuvres.
The authority recognises that not all viable solutions may be suited to demonstration at RAF Staxton Wold, or would be available to be demonstrated during the period specified. So as not to deny a potentially-compliant solution the chance to exhibit, within this project, potential providers are, therefore, presented with the opportunity to propose alternative demonstration plans, including at a manufacturer’s own premises. The authority may then consider such proposals for solution potential, as well as equivalence and acceptability, on a case-by-case basis, of the alternative demonstration plan. Potential providers are advised that, as the solution sought is intended for military purposes (national AD), there may be constraints on where in-service equipment may be located for availability, security as well as legal reasons. Short-range systems requiring devices to be positioned at sea, possibly in international waters, may not be regarded as appropriate for certain wind farms and, hence, not eligible for consideration as a universal solution, owing to the impracticalities of implementation. In the interests of delivering required capability, MOD remains open to a ‘golf-bag of solutions’ approach. However, for reasons of practical utility (and logistics), a short-range system with limited applicability may be regarded as less attractive than, say, a versatile long-range system with wider applicability, other considerations being equal.
Participation in the future demonstration would be at Industry’s expense, noting that it provides an opportunity to showcase their capabilities to a wide range of stakeholders and the opportunity to receive military user feedback. However, in order to present an equal opportunity to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Authority may consider requests from SMEs for limited funding on individual merit, especially where it can be shown that to demonstrate their product to MOD would prove prohibitive to the SME on cost grounds and hence put them at a disadvantage.
Participants to note: in recognition of the time pressures associated with this activity, having reviewed the responses to the DPQQ, the MOD would look to invite as many proposals to be demonstrated as are practicable within the available period (i.e. a manageable number). However, all proposals deemed worthy of pursuit would be given an opportunity to present in due course.
5.12.2019 advert out
31.1.2020 advert closes – submissions in
3.2.2020 – 14.2.2020 down select/paper sift
Estimated dates for the purposes of a possible demonstration, subject to SQEP availability
18.2.2020 authority decision and framework release
24.2.2020 Framework agreed
Mar/Apr – Jul/Aug ‘20 Initial Demonstration period
The value added for the supplier is the ability to work closely with MOD and receive feedback on their solution. The MOD would receive market intelligence that can be used to inform its requirements setting. Industry would better understand the requirement of potential customers, which would not necessarily be confined to the UK.
To be considered:
Companies are invited to submit expressions of interest and complete the DPQQ within the timeframe with the successful candidates signing up to the nil-value framework agreement.
The deadline for submissions is 31.1.2020.
The activity will be circulated through a number of communication routes but this DCB advert is the definitive document.
All queries can be sent to: