Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced a contract worth up to £55 million in which 56 bomb disposal robots will be commissioned.

Following a demonstration phase costing £4m, the robots will be purchased from US firm Harris.

They will be used by the British Army, and the project will be carried out at MBM Technology in Brighton.

Mr Fallon said in his keynote speech at the DSEI conference in London that the robots would use "advanced haptic feedback" in order to allow operators to "feel" their way through the process of disarming an explosive from a safe distance. He added:

"With our rising defence budget, we are investing in the latest equipment for our Armed Forces to tackle the growing threats we face."

"These state-of-the-art bomb disposal robots will be powerful and reliable companions to our troops on the battlefield, keeping them safe so they can help keep us safe."

The "robots" will come equipped with HD cameras and an adjustable arm with "human-like dexterity" which they will use to neutralise the threats.

Chief Executive Officer for Defence Equipment and Support, the MOD’s procurement organisation, Tony Douglas said:

"This contract has been designed to deliver future-proof, world-leading technology at the best value to the taxpayer."

"Innovation is central not only to the success of this remarkable system, but also to the relationships across DE&S, Industry and the frontline commands which allowed this agreement to be reached."                          

In addition to new bomb disposal robots, the Defence Secretary announced that UK personnel will be using a new lightning-fast protection system under development by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The MOD hopes that the new 'Icarus' system will be able to detect and defeat threats to armoured vehicles within 100 milliseconds.

The Defence Secretary also pointed out that, for the first time, a full-scale model of the UK’s future laser turret will be on display at DSEI.

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