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MoD deploys £10m on virtual battlefield

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has asked Rayethon Systems to develop a pilot version of the Joint Effects Tactical Targeting System (JETTS), software the MoD says could change the way the armed forces do battle. The £10m contract covers a 36 month assessment period.

In an effort to dodge the risks of a large scale software project - likely to be worth £300m in total - the MoD stipulates that JETTS must be open architecture and be developed in phases. It also says elements of the system must be available for re-use in other MoD projects.

The software will be designed to allow commanders to control equipment more efficiently when on the battlefield. In a statement, the MoD said the JETTS programme is part of a wider move within the department to a "digitised battle space".

The idea is that the software will allow commanders to synchronise deployment of everything from artillery to jets. This will, in the sanitised phrasing of the MoD, increase the tempo of battle, making it harder for opponents to respond.

Lord Bach, Minister for Defence Procurement said that battlefield co-ordination is done manually at the moment. The level of detail this needs often slows the pace of operations, he said.

In case this seems too bloodthirsty, the MoD is quick to point out that JETTS will also be very useful in peacetime.

"JETTS will make battle planning and execution much quicker and easier with assets working simultaneously and in harmony," said Bach "However JETTS will have other applications too and will be used extensively by commanders planning peacetime operations, for example helping to shape the plans for political, economic and social reconstruction."

The MoD wants JETTS to be operational by 2015. ®

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