Tech turbo-charge for Royal Navy's aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales after software 'super release'

BRITAIN’S two mighty aircraft carriers have been given a technology turbo-charge after a ‘super release’ of software to upgrade their hi-tech kit.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 4th February 2022, 2:03 pm

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister, HMS Prince of Wales, have been given overhauls to their combat systems equipment.

The improvements, delivered by defence giant BAE Systems, have been made to ensure both the £3.2bn vessels can operate effectively with Nato allies while at sea.

News of the upgrades come as HMS Prince of Wales returned to Portsmouth today after several weeks at sea.

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HMS Prince of Wales, front, pictured for the first time at sea with her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, rear.

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The naval behemoth is due for a brief pitstop in the city ahead of her mission to join Exercise Cold Response near Norway, where she will act as the Nato flagship in the region.

Steve Carter, combat systems equipment delivery director at BAE, said the new upgrades would help to make Prince of Wales an effective command platform.

He added: ‘These last few months have been incredibly busy preparing this “super release”. Our teams have worked tirelessly 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 Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

HMS Prince of Wales pictured in January after she became Nato's new flagship.

‘The most crucial of these updates has 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.’

Other crucial upgrades delivered to the warships - the biggest ever built for the Senior Service - include boosts to the vessels’ combat management systems, to enhance security and performance, and its shared infrastructure kit to help the navy work more closely with allies.

Engineers have spent weeks installing extensive amounts of cabling and technology to support Nato allies, like the Americans, when they’re based on the carriers.

In HMS Prince of Wales alone, some 92 miles of fibre optic cabling was fitted across 33 compartments.

The enhancements will help the UK’s carrier strike group, which last year worked alongside American and Dutch allies.

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”.’

Similar combat enhancements are planned for the navy’s £6bn fleet of Type 45 destroyers.

Exercise Cold Response is planned to take place towards the end of March.

It is Nato’s biggest war game in the region this year, involving some 35,000 military personnel from 23 countries.

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