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UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) chief executive Gary Aitkenhead has announced two new programmes lead by the laboratory to develop novel ground vehicles and satellites.

The satellite programme, ‘Project Oberon’, will see Dstl partner with Airbus to develop and deploy a cluster of ultra-high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites as early as 2025.

Aitkenhead said: “This addition to our capability is a valuable part of the future of defence space. Partnership between Dstl and Airbus on this project secures UK jobs as well as continuing to exploit advances in the UK space sector.”

The satellites will be capable of seeing the Earth in all weather conditions and at night, as described by Aitkenhead. Dstl said it expects to be able to field a prototype demonstrator by 2022.

Project Oberon is part of a £50m commitment by Dstl to develop future space capabilities of the UK which are becoming increasingly integral to military activities.

The ground vehicle programme will be boosted by £3.2m of investment from Dstl and be led by QinetiQ. The aim of the programme is to boost the performance of UK Future ground combat vehicles.

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Aitkenhead told DSEI the system will employ advancements from Formula 1 racing to employ electric drive systems into future vehicles.

Aitkenhead said: “Technology changes the way we do things in every aspect of our daily lives. This is never truer than adapting the way we work, even on the battlefield.

“We are working in partnership with QinetiQ to deliver a three-year programme, which will move from concept studies to prototype testing in a real-world environment. This project will help ensure we have the best ground fleet ever.”

The programme will be executed over three-years, with the first focusing on ‘studies, concepts and modelling’. The following two-years will be used to prototype and test the vehicles developed.

Aitkenhead stressed the importance of Dstl to the UK defence sector and the work of Dstl across the whole range of warfare domains saying: “Dstl is at the heart of UK’s security.”

The laboratory employs over 4,000 personnel from wargamers to sports psychologists leading the development, deployment and testing of advanced systems for the Ministry of Defence.