AVIATION & RADAR
“Strategic-level direction and senior level buy-in has created an environment for open and honest collaboration that has been at the heart of the Joint Aviation Task Force’s success. Furthermore, a willingness to break this issue down into ‘bite-size’ chunks has meant that focus has been maintained on the overall end state – coexistence of the offshore wind industry with UK Defence assets.
I have been delighted with the progress to date, and while there is still a long way to go, there are clear lessons that our international partners can use to further their own collaborations to complex problem solving.”
Workstream Sponsor SSE Renewables
Programme A – Air Defence: To find ways to mitigate the impacts of offshore wind farms on air defence radar systems and ultimately, the co-existence of air defence and offshore wind, a Joint Air Defence and Offshore Windfarm Mitigation Taskforce has been established, overseen by a senior level Joint Programme Board, and supported by a Wing Commander Senior Programme Manager within the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the OWIC Workstream Lead.
The partnership brings together OWIC, The Crown Estate through its Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). In September 2021, the Taskforce published a first iteration of its Strategy and Implementation Plan (the Plan), supported by both BEIS and MOD Ministers. The Plan highlights the importance of strategic collaboration and identifies that technical mitigations exist that could be introduced using new surveillance technology to distinguish between wind turbines and aircraft with greater precision than current systems.
The Strategy was informed by a series of Concept Demonstration activities (live flight trials with radar mitigation) to better understand the capabilities of mature mitigation solutions. Studies and work are planned to update the Plan going forward. The sector has also funded a MOD Air Defence Mitigation Feasibility Study, with the MOD funding a Next Generation Mitigation Study (led by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory). MOD is continuing work on operational analysis and jointly the Task Force is working on processes development including solution procurement and cost-sharing options. The BEIS funded, MOD (Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA)) delivered, Innovation Challenge awarded £2.1m to six projects in Phase 1 and £3.7m for seven projects in Phase 2.
Programme B – Surveillance and Airspace: A new programme on civil aviation has been established including plans for a 3-in-1 study on Layout, Stealth and Data led by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. Working with the Department for Transport (DfT), BEIS, MOD, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and NATS; OWIC is looking to establish a strategic solution around offshore Transponder Mandatory Zones (TMZs) and publish a study on the future requirements for offshore aviation Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS).