At Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), our purpose is to equip and support the UK military with the edge to succeed in the modern battlespace – now and in the future. We spoke to Programme Manager Buhe about her role and its impact for the nation.
“By staying innovative and leading change from the front, we’re supporting the Armed Forces, helping them maintain an advantage and therefore keeping the country safe.”
Buhe has worked in the Future Capability Group (FCG) here at DE&S for over four years. The FCG team is dedicated to the exploitation of innovation and technology, helping to ensure our Armed Forces are at the forefront of Defence capability. Working closely with our military customers, FCG operates in the ‘pre-concept’ phase of acquisition, de-risking concepts and technical solutions, and evolving the equipment of the future in line with military requirements. This team is all about novel, disruptive technology - to help our front lines maintain operational advantage.
“My role involves engaging with industry partners and the wider Defence industry to provide the best solutions for the UK military to meet complex challenges in modern warfare. It’s a technical role and involves a lot of collaboration, innovation, and agility across the projects we deliver. I’m responsible for delivering innovations that span across Defence priorities such as autonomy, persistent surveillance, and immersive training.”
Challenging the norm is championed within FCG, by finding new, agile ways of doing things and delivering it quickly. Buhe told us about one of her favourite projects where this method was particularly successful - the Heavy Lift Challenge. During this project, a ground-breaking agile procurement approach was adopted to develop Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) that could be used to transport critical cargo and supplies between ships and Royal Navy troops on the front line.
“Prospective suppliers were invited to demonstrate their RPAS systems against set criteria for speed, endurance and accuracy carrying weight in excess of 100kg. The successful companies secured funding to develop their RPAS to lift beyond 200kg, stretching targets even further. Adopting an agile approach, where we split the task into short phases of work with frequent reassessment and adaptation, allows us to develop concepts more quickly, identifying challenges we might be faced with sooner rather than later.”
With innovation being such a priority, we asked Buhe how her team are supported to stay inventive and creative positive change:
“We have a lot of freedom to come up with ideas, and we’re encouraged to think differently. We’re supported to research new and emerging technologies, to engage with industry, and understand their system solutions. The freedom that we get to take different approaches has been empowering, and really uplifting. Regardless of level, everyone is treated as equal and there is a level playing field to contribute ideas. [In doing this,] we’re able to positively impact our military customers by supporting them in considering with their future strategy and needs in relation to defence equipment.”
Buhe also spoke about why she enjoys her role in FCG:
“It’s really rewarding. I’m doing something different where I get to challenge and stretch myself and be creative on a variety of projects. Each day is different, you never get the same thing twice and I enjoy solving problems. You can see that the world is changing, and that things are progressing at a fast rate and it’s seeking those opportunities and grasping them at the earliest opportunity.
I get to experiment with cool technology which is great fun. I’ve also got variety in my job, and I work with a fantastic team who are highly motivated. There’s nothing greater than having a team that is supportive and an innovative leader who has a vision to do things differently.”
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DE&S is a specialist procurement arm within the Ministry of Defence (MOD), headquartered in Filton, Bristol with locations all around the UK and abroad.