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MoD pays £150m for soldier tech

The Ministry of Defence has announced that it will pay contractor Thales £150m for the first wave of the Future Infantry Soldier Technology (Fist) programme.The money will pay for thermal sights, close quarter battle sights, day sights, commanders' target locating systems, underslung grenade-launcher sights and fire control systems, ruggedised digital cameras, and periscopes.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

The Ministry of Defence has announced that it will pay contractor Thales £150m for the first wave of the Future Infantry Soldier Technology (Fist) programme.

The money will pay for thermal sights, close quarter battle sights, day sights, commanders' target locating systems, underslung grenade-launcher sights and fire control systems, ruggedised digital cameras, and periscopes.

An Irish Guards infantry soldier carrying an SA80 rifle with a thermal sight.

The sight has a zoom facility, and is powered by standard AA batteries.

"It is the infantry soldier that bears the brunt [of the fighting] and takes the losses," defence equipment minister Quentin Davies told a press conference on Tuesday. "We are investing in improving survivability and effectiveness."

The next stage of the Fist programme, which includes command and control technology, awaits a government green light for funding.

A National Audit Office report earlier this summer said the NAO could not sign off £6.6bn worth of equipment as there was insufficient evidence of the kit's existence. Davies told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the MoD "have very good financial contracts".

"When we sign a contract for £150m, we expect to get the equipment," said Davies.

When quizzed by ZDNet UK about a £100m budget cut for defence research and development announced in the summer, Davies said that the funding cut would not affect the Fist programme.

"We announced months ago the research and development spending cut, which we have taken out of spending tasks that are not germane [to immediate military efforts], such as contracts with the Met Office," said Davies. "We will use the money for other defence purposes."

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