Interim Director Weapons, vice acting head at DE&S, visits modernised UK Test & Evaluation Facilities

Ed Cutts, Interim Director Weapons, vice acting head at DE&S, recently visited MOD Shoeburyness and QinetiQ’s Fort Halstead site to witness activities and the recent improvements to UK Test & Evaluation Facilities.

The two-day tour – which included MOD Shoeburyness in Essex on 14 November and Fort Halstead in Kent the day after – follows a recent £20m investment by QinetiQ and the MOD in capability improvements to the Environmental Test Centre (ETC) as part of the strategy to modernise UK Test & Evaluation.

At MOD Shoeburyness, operated and managed by QinetiQ under its Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) with MOD, Mr Cutts was shown how the funding has been used to build new facilities, and refurbish and expand existing test buildings. Ageing and obsolete equipment has also been upgraded to ensure that the capability is optimised and operating with the latest technology.  

The touring group, which also included Ray Drury, MOD Trials, Evaluation Services and Targets (TEST), Graeme Morrison, Operations Director of Maritime, Land & Weapons, QinetiQ, and Will Blamey, LTPA Portfolio Director, then moved on to view a stretch of the recently upgraded sea flood defences. A vital aspect of the Range infrastructure at MOD Shoeburyness, the 40km sea wall that protects the capability and the residents of Foulness Island is also the focus of major investment.  

A stop at Range Control demonstrated how QinetiQ safely manages live firing activity on land and sea areas, and the significant effort that is made to manage noise emissions. The tour concluded with an introduction to the Avocet Explosive Waste Incineration facility. Part of the Range’s demilitarisation capability, the facility is the target for further investment at MOD Shoeburyness in the near future.     

During his visit to QinetiQ’s Fort Halstead site, Mr Cutts saw the Breakdown, Sectioning and Machining (BSM) capabilities as well as the Energetic Material laboratories. Both of these areas are essential to Safety and Suitability for Service (S3) – the process by which MOD assures the safe operations of its munitions – and both will be the focus of a substantial QinetiQ investment over the next three years to modernise energetics capabilities at the site. Mr Cutts was accompanied by Ray Drury, Steve FitzGerald, MD Maritime, Land & Weapons, and Alan Hart Programme Director Land & Weapons.