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Babcock selected to deliver RN's new Ardent Wolf CESM suite

HMS Northumberland seen during Exercise ‘Cold Response' in March 2022. The new Ardent Wolf CESM capability will replace the current Hammerhead system on RN Type 23 frigates. (Royal Navy/Crown copyright)

UK engineering and services group Babcock has been contracted by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide a new maritime communications electronic support measures (CESM) capability to replace the Hammerhead CESM suite fitted to Royal Navy (RN) Type 23 frigates.

The company announced on 6 October that the six-year programme would deliver, install, and support the new Ardent Wolf CESM capability on RN Type 23 ships. The contract – the value of which has not been disclosed – will involve equipment installation, repair and maintenance, system and design safety, contractor logistics support, training, and all updates.

Babcock has partnered with a specialist UK-based small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) to deliver Ardent Wolf. The SME concerned has not been identified but is understood to be an established supplier of signals intelligence/radio frequency monitoring equipment.

The MoD commenced procurement activity for Ardent Wolf in mid-2021, outlining plans for a UK-sourced solution founded on a readily available commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product at a high technical readiness level. The new system is required to utilise the extant CESM infrastructure on the Type 23 frigates, with the contract expected to deliver a minimum of seven COTS-based systems.

Babcock earlier delivered the Hammerhead CESM system to the RN in partnership with US contractor Argon ST (a subsidiary of Boeing). In April 2021 Babcock received a GBP1.3 million (USD1.47 million) Hammerhead Life Extension contract from the MoD to sustain the existing equipment in service until March 2025.

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