“Super release” of software updates delivered to UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers

BAE Systems has revealed that a “super release” of software updates has been delivered to both Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class Carriers providing them with the latest capabilities required for their Carrier Strike Group and NATO deployments in 2022 and beyond.

HMS Queen Elizabeth; Photo by: Royal Navy

Under a seven-year Joint Service Support 2 (JSS2) contract, the company’s teams have partnered with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the Royal Navy, providing the latest capability and availability to the mission systems of the Royal Navy fleet, ensuring platforms are safe, secure and ready to complete their tasking. 

The main updates delivered to the Royal Navy and NATO Flagships are:

  •  Shared Infrastructure (SI) system updates to host additional mission system capabilities
  •  Tactical Data Links integration updates to broaden interoperability with task force platforms
  •  Combat Management System updates to enhance security and performance.

Steve Carter, Combat Systems Equipment Delivery Director, said: “These last few months have been incredibly busy preparing this “super release”. Our teams have worked … to collectively develop, integrate and deliver the required upgrades and updates to the Royal Navy in a short space of time, to bring detailed, complex changes to the mission systems of the QEC Carriers.”

He emphasized that the most crucial of these updates have been “to the Tactical Data Link interfaces, which are critical to enabling the ships’ to communicate and share data with other Royal Navy platforms and allies, essential for ensuring interoperability.”  

Commodore Phil Game Royal Navy, Head of DE&S Maritime Combat Systems, added: “The Carrier Strike Group deployment last year was hugely successful as a national endeavour, energising our diplomatic, trade and security partnerships. We need to build on this and deliver improved capability to our platforms with pace and agility, as demonstrated in this ‘super release’”. 

The next stage is the deployment of the same capability updates to the Type 45 Destroyers that will accompany the aircraft carriers on their respective deployments this year.

So far, the destroyers’ changes have successfully passed the factory acceptance testing and are now at our maritime systems integration facility undergoing formal combat system integration activity ahead of their platform harbour and sea trials.

The company concluded that the teams support the Royal Navy’s in-service fleet with maintenance, support and upgrades to their combat management systems, tactical networks and shared infrastructures.

To remind, Royal Navy’s lead Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier completed its maiden operational deployment in December last year which took the nation’s flagship to the Indo-Pacific and back.

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On a landmark seven-month mission, the aircraft carrier and its task group of eight supporting ships, a submarine, five air squadrons and more than 3,700 personnel visited more than 40 countries. The vessel has led the UK Carrier Strike Group through its mission.

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