The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has plans to recapitalize the Royal Navy’s maritime capabilities by combining two previous projects, the Radio Frequency RF and the Electronic surveillance and defensive aid, to create the Maritime Electronic Warfare Programme (MEWP). The MEWP illustrates the Royal Navy’s wish to lead in the area of electronic warfare and is a part of their intention to upgrade the whole United Kingdom’s Navy with over 70 new systems from 45 commercial partners in the forthcoming years.

The MEWP aims to upgrade the Royal Navy’s electronic warfare capabilities with state of the art equipment and cutting-edge technology. This programme is divided into two sections: the first step ‘Maritime Electronic Warfare System Integrated Capability’ (MEWSIC) which will deliver improvements in electronic surveillance, EW command and control (EWC2), and electronic warfare operational support (EWOS). The second phase is the Electronic Warfare Countermeasures (EWCM).

The MEWP takes over previous electronic warfare projects such as the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organization which had been pursuing standalone Maritime Electronic Warfare Surveillance System (MEWSS) and Defensive Aids Suite – Surface Ship (DASSS) programs. MEWSS was intended to deliver a next-generation ship borne electronic support measures (ESM) capability, whereas DAS-SS was focused on the provision of improved soft-kill coordination and new RF countermeasures, with an initial focal point on upgraded Electronic Warfare Command and Control (EWC2).

The MEWSS and DAS-SS merged into the MEWSIC and EWCM sub-projects, which alone have been valued between £250-400 million (€283-453 million). This effort is intended to deliver a coherent next-generation EW surveillance and soft-kill protection capability for RN Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers to address RF threats out to 2035. Other MEWP components are expected to be fitted on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship and the Type 31 light frigate in due course. For the moment, the MoD has not chosen its partners for MEWSIC, however Thales, BAE Systems, and CGI have teamed up against Lockheed Martin UK and Elbit Martin Systems UK to win the contract.

For the moment, the MEWP is still in its market research stage, more particularly in the Royal Navy’s Electronic warfare submarines capabilities area. In recent official documents, the MoD confirmed the scheduled start date of award procedures (2022) for the Future Submarine Warfare Surveillance System (F-SEWSS) and the Maritime Electronic Warfare Surveillance System L (MEWSS-L) projects, comprising in a first step of market research through Requests for Information which encompasses all Technology Readiness Levels from early developmental considerations to Commercial and Military Off The Shelf (COTS/MOTS).

Regarding the second phase, the EWCM, Electronic Warfare Countermeasures (EWCM) Request For Information initiated by the DE&S, confirms that market research for the second sub-phase, Balanced Countermeasures Suite Study (BCM2) has begun.

Adjacent projects funded by the MoD in Electronic warfare are also in the works. The MoD awarded an initial 5-year contract back in 2016, to Leonardo Airborne & Space Systems Division (£1-18.4 million – €1.3-20.78 million), BAE Systems Applied Intelligence (£11.6-19.7 million – €13.1-22.24 million), Atlas Elektronik UK (£2.1-12.4 million – €2.37 -14.1 million), and QinetiQ (£5-9.5 million – €5.6-10.7 million), for electronic warfare, cyber research, and technology, as one of the four core capacity packages. The aim is to provide a rapid tasking route to stimulate market performance and to increase external capabilities to ensure national EW&C capability for the MoD and wider UK government priorities.


Written by Alexandra Stafferton (Junior Analyst) for OIDA Strategic Intelligence

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