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McLaren Racing and the MOD join forces to innovate

What does McLaren’s Formula One racing team and the Ministry of Defence have in common? It’s not a trick question, but rather the beginning of a promising strategic partnership between the two British organisations.

The partnership will see McLaren Racing and the Ministry of Defence join forces in order to share knowledge and collaborate on high-tech, innovative projects. Through its industry-facing Accelerator arm, McLaren will provide engineering expertise from its years of elite-level motorsport to Defence project teams who require specialist engineering knowledge and skills.

This exciting partnership will see McLaren Racing bring their world-class expertise from the racetrack into a number of Defence projects." Grant Shapps, Defence Secretary

However, the partnership won’t be exclusively limited to engineering, with McLaren also imparting insight and guidance to Defence on efficient ways of working in high-stakes operations.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: 

“This exciting partnership will see McLaren Racing bring their world-class expertise from the racetrack into a number of Defence projects.

“By collaborating with industry we will continue to drive innovation through knowledge sharing, which will benefit Defence’s engineering and operations across the course of the partnership and beyond.”

The partnership was launched at the Defence BattleLab, Bovington, Dorset, on Thursday March 14th. Here, teams from across Defence had the opportunity to pitch to McLaren to be one of the first projects taken under their wing.

After we’ve done the initial data collection and got through the trials process, that would give us a baseline that will help inform into things like the digital twins and put in a virtual proving ground so that we can multiply the effects of what's done in the physical trials environment.” Corporal Bryan Munce, Armoured Trials and Development Unit

Corporal Bryan Munce of the Armoured Trials and Development Unit is one of the prospective applicants. For the past two years, he has been working on Project Lurcher, converting military Land Rover and WMIKs (Land Rovers fitted with a Weapons Mount Installation Kit) into electric vehicles in a trailblazing project.

He hopes that the McLaren partnership could offer the chance to refine Project Lurcher and present it as an example for battlefield electrification and future power options. Through the advanced technology and processes that McLaren can offer, he hopes to digitally model the vehicles in order to expedite the development process.

“After we’ve done the initial data collection and got through the trials process, that would give us a baseline that will help inform into things like the digital twins, and put in a virtual proving ground so that we can multiply the effects of what's done in the physical trials environment. And that can then be multiplied in a digital synthetic environment,” he said.

“And so that's the start point. But then after that, it will then also allow us to have a platform for innovation.”

Captain Ellis Grant, Officer Commanding of the 13 Air Assault Support Regiment Light Aid Detachment offered an equipment perspective on the partnership.

I think the British army can offer a diverse and competent way of thinking – our planning and where we excel is when things become really difficult and the problem becomes very complex and wicked - we strive at working through and coming up with solutions.” CAPTAIN ELLIS GRANT, 13 AIR ASSAULT SUPPORT REGIMENT LIGHT AID DETACHMENT

“I think this partnership is really exciting to bring industry leaders into the defence area. We run off of legacy equipment, and it’s great to have the opportunity to be able to work with a partner such as McLaren, who stay on top of emerging technologies, and are able to use their research and development to a high standard to collect all the data and run analysis and then make informed decisions and changes to technologies and equipment to better themselves.

“We definitely could do with plugging into that and understanding how they utilize their data at the moment. The Army very much strives to better ourselves and to stay on top of any sort of emerging trends, however, I believe that we can definitely learn something from the industry where, you know, the cutting edge is what means the difference between succeeding and coming runner up.

“And when you've got that drive that so matches with that of military, it would be a great partnership to be able to bring together to fully enhance both our own understanding as well as where we can help with their logistics and the like.

Expanding on what he thought the British Army could offer McLaren, he added: “I think the British army can offer a diverse and competent way of thinking – our planning and where we excel is when things become really difficult and the problem becomes very complex and wicked - we strive at working through and coming up with solutions.”

While this is the first such partnership for the MOD, the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force has long been involved in motorsport, with each service boasting a number of disciplines in which service personnel can compete.

Not only does this allow soldiers to develop mutually beneficial skills, but it also facilitates synergetic technology developments across both the military and motorsports industries.

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