The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has signed a £300m five-year framework contract with British multinational defence technology company QinetiQ to lead the Weapons Sector Research Framework (WSRF).

The framework will provide Dstl and over 70 industry and academic suppliers an opportunity to develop and exploit technology for the benefit of the UK

The WSRF replaces the existing Weapons Science and Technology Centre (WSTC) contract and offers a broader scope of research activities including work on directed energy weapons. The WSRF will examine the overall scope of the Future Kinetic Effects and Weapons (FKEW) Programme, which comprise of complex, conventional and novel weapons technologies.

Dstl Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead said: “As the science inside UK defence and security, Dstl’s research delivers clear military and strategic advantage for our armed forces. We reduce risk to our forces by delivering technology with increased effectiveness and range.

“We have seen a growing demand from customers for our advice, assurance and research which create new game-changing capabilities for defence.”

QinetiQ managing director for maritime and land Steve Fitz-Gerald commented on the partnership, saying: “We are immensely proud to be supporting Dstl and the wider defence enterprise to deliver a framework that ensures the UK benefits from the best thinking and innovation.

“The enhanced scope of the WSRF will allow the generation of new capability, getting battle-winning equipment and technology into the hands of the warfighter at pace, and enable the UK to counter the evolving threats to our sovereignty and prosperity.”

Aitkenhead added: “We are proud to have delivered affordable and effective solutions to our customers that have saved lives and money, as well as supporting the growth of the UK economy. The WSRF brings together our key partners, SMEs and academia to develop the solutions defence and security need in a fast-evolving world.”

QinetiQ said it will be responding to the challenges set by the MOD to accelerate the development of emerging and disruptive weapons technologies. The WSRF will execute an enterprise approach between the MOD and industry; this encompasses planning, tasking and delivery of Weapons science and technology research.

QinetiQ added that this approach provides a wide range of suppliers which can be continually refreshed, thus improving the MOD’s knowledge base and access to innovative, disruptive solutions, state-of-the-art techniques and world-leading researchers.

QinetiQ says that the enterprise approach will support the MOD strategic objectives through direct exploitation through the UK Complex Weapons Portfolio, MOD’s Novel Weapons Programme and Front Line Commands (FLCs).