Today, L3Harris employs approximately 1,700 personnel across 10 sites in the United Kingdom, focused on the delivery of a wide range of defense and security capabilities to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other government agencies, as well as supporting a broad European customer base.
Spread across the four business segments of L3Harris Technologies, the U.K. businesses operate in land, air, sea, space and cyber domains.
The business is in “good shape” in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which brought most of the United Kingdom and Europe to a near-standstill this past spring, according to L3Harris UK vice president Graeme Mackay, who is tasked with assisting the coordination across these business segments.
Mackay outlined L3Harris UK’s role in cyber security and ensuring resilient connectivity across the contemporary operating environment.
“L3Harris UK is ideally positioned to support the MoD’s requirements for protecting communications, especially as the world becomes an ‘Internet of Things,’” Mackay said. “We are very keen to provide protection as people move around huge amounts of data.”
L3Harris UK also highlighted strong growth potential in its Communication Systems segment. Keith Norton, L3Harris UK’s vice president of Europe and Canada, said there is “great potential” moving forward post-merger.
In September 2019, the Communication Systems segment moved into a purpose-built 80,000-square-foot facility in Farnborough, Hampshire – the United Kingdom’s defense and aerospace hub. With 50,000 square feet set aside for the production, assembly, repair and maintenance of secure tactical communications equipment, the factory space is “flexible and adaptable for whatever task we need to take on,” Norton said. L3Harris UK is currently under contract with General Dynamics UK to support and maintain the 50,000 BOWMAN tactical radios in service with the British Army.
“We are moving into a new era for our supply and support to the MoD as we transition into the MORPHEUS timeframe,” Norton said.
MORPHEUS, the British Army’s next-generation tactical communications program, represents a significant growth opportunity for L3Harris UK. This includes supplying combat-proven resilient tactical radios as well as repair and maintenance, waveforms, encryption and cyber security services.
“Our new $100 million facility investment in Farnborough provides us with a solid foundation to support the MoD over the foreseeable future,” Norton said. “U.K. forces need solutions to address the re-emergence of the near-peer EW threat. L3Harris’ experience in defeating such threats across all domains provides us with the opportunity to directly feed this experience back to the UK MoD.”
L3Harris UK is in full support of the MoD’s Information Advantage strategy and is prepared to provide “significant capability enhancements though the provision of world-class adaptable and flexible solutions for the MORPHEUS program,” he added.
The MoD has access to next-generation L3Harris tactical radio products developed in the United States as well as L3Harris UK’s internal research-and-development expertise according to Norton. Tactical radios have moved on significantly from the BOWMAN era, and the company’s radios are all now software defined.
“This enables us to make them future-proof by adding new waveforms post-procurement as threat, waveform technology and standards evolve,” Norton said. “This gives greater confidence to procurers and moves away from being locked into one solution for the life of the equipment. Two areas where L3Harris has made significant advances are HF and multi-channel radios in both manpack and handheld form factors.”
For example, the AN/PRC-160 HF/VHF manpack offers a vast throughput advantage compared to the BOWMAN HF, which was limited to 2.4 kbps. By contrast, the AN/PRC-160 supports 10 times the throughput of legacy HF systems and is a viable alternative to SATCOM for long-range data communications.
“Our multi-channel radios, such as the AN/PRC-163 handheld, combine two complete radios in a single chassis,” Norton said. “These radios have the capability to run different waveforms in different frequency bands, and they can also crossband within the radio. This allows them to be used as gateways linking different levels in the communications hierarchy.”
For example, one channel could be on a tactical network with a robust waveform while the other channel could be on a mid-tier backbone or tactical satellite backhaul.
“It’s a game changer in designing and deploying communications architectures,” Norton said. “The ability to leverage from these advances across our product portfolio using our U.K.-based engineering and production facilities allows us to take this type of product and tailor to U.K. requirements. Our Farnborough facility is List-X-accredited, and we have U.K. security-cleared engineering resources so essential to MORPHEUS. In addition, interoperability for coalition operation is vitally important to all European nations, and we offer interoperability with U.S. and other allied forces ‘out of the box.’”
Additional areas of interest for the Communication Systems segment include the MoD’s Future Beyond-Line-Of-Sight and SATCOM terminal requirements.
Across Europe, L3Harris UK is also engaging in opportunities in tactical communications modernization, including significant programs being undertaken in Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.
“Many European nations are looking at refreshing their tactical communications systems from the ‘digitization era,’ so right now there are a number of very large programs underway,” Norton said. “We are taking a coordinated view across these, and we are architecting solutions based upon a common core with localized elements and features.”
“We are moving into a new era for our supply and support to the MoD as we transition into the MORPHEUS timeframe.”