The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said thousands of personnel would get access to wearable personal chemical agent sensors that allow them to detect dozens of toxic threats.
It will be a first of its kind for the UK Armed Forces, as the wearable sensor will be able to detect threats from both vapours and aerosols.
Under the contract, UK firm Smiths Detection will develop three next-generation chemical sensor products for the MoD, to be operational by 2028.
This includes a wearable personal chemical agent sensor that continually monitors the environment around the user, a survey chemical agent sensor that can check potentially hazardous areas or surfaces, and a remote chemical sensor for use in fixed locations.
As new hazards emerge in the future, the equipment can be continually updated and improved, identifying a greater range of chemical threat coverage, the MoD said.
Minister for defence procurement James Cartlidge said: “It’s vital we protect our service personnel, and this cutting-edge technology is so important to reduce the threat posed by toxic chemicals across a range of environments globally.
“Not only is it an impressive piece of equipment that will be designed and manufactured here in the UK, but the ability for it to be continually developed and improved is exactly how we want defence procurement to be – deliverable, effective and ambitious.”
Roland Carter, Smiths Detection president, said: “We’re honoured to have been selected by the UK MoD to supply this next-generation technology. Since our business inception, nearly 70 years ago, we have been designing, developing, manufacturing and servicing chemical-sensing technology. This technology protects defence forces, including the UK MoD, and communities from known and emerging threats.”
In June, the cabinet office launched a new ‘Biothreats Radar’ to help protect the British public from infectious diseases, biological attacks and antibiotic resistance.
A recent report found that the UK’s military capabilities could be eroded if the MoD does not make urgent efforts to adapt its operational capabilities for climate change and a warming world.
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