Multidiscipline engineering firm Cosworth has been awarded two Ministry of Defence contracts, Lord Astor announced on Thursday.
The British engineering firm, which supplies engines and electronics to Formula 1 and operates across sectors, will build components that capture data about the severity of accidents and which monitor less conspicuous damage to military vehicless.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says that this could enable military commanders to make more effective decisions on the battlefield.
Chief executive of Cosworth Group, Tim Routsis, said: “We are delighted to be using our electronics expertise to assist in the military’s attempts to improve the safety of our troops in Afghanistan. It is encouraging to see how the MoD is recognising the potential of the technology available in businesses like Cosworth.”
The deal is part of a broader, contemporary trend of UK companies with experience in motorsport diversifying into manufacturing specialised equipment for the military services.
Williams F1 Hybrid Power is building an electromechanical flywheel to increase the efficiency of diesel generators used in the Afghanistan conflict. The NAR Group, which has supplied equipment for the Paris-Dakar Rally, has designed a dust-proof cooling system for the Ridgeback, Panther and Mastiff armoured vehicles.
Approximately one third of the companies involved in building components for a new Light Protected Patrol Vehicle – which is intended to replace the Snatch Land Rover in Afghanistan – are members of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), which operates a big trans-industry knowledge transfer programme, Motorsport into Defence.
The Supacat SPV400, one of the frontline MIA-backed projects using motorsport expertise to build military equipment, would be assembled at NP Aerospace’s plant in Coventry.
Lord Astor, the outgoing president of the Motorports Industry Association and current Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the MoD, said he was excited about the prospect of marrying motorsport technology and military need.
Alistair Fergusson, chairman of the MIA and managing director of Alcon, said he hopes that defence could account for 25% of his company’s revenue within the next few years: “Three years ago we had no presence in defence at all. Now we have four contracts and we’re doing a lot of work with UORs (Urgent Operational Requirements) in Afghanistan including making brakes for the Supacat SPV400.
“There will be significant revenues in this, we’re only just scratching the surface. There are a lot of people at the MoD who haven’t had the opportunity to understand what motorsports companies can do to help speed up their response time and reduce the cost of bringing solutions to market.”
Other companies with motorsport engineering experience are hoping to win contracts with the Ministry of Defence include xTrac, Titan Motorsports, Cummins UK and Christy Hydraulics.