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11:18 AM, December 15, 2015
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Fourth generation Pacific 24 Rigid Inflatable Boat (Image: BAE Systems)

BAE has won a £13.5m contract to supply 60 new Pacific 24 Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) to the UK navy.

The Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon announced the contract during his visit to Portsmounth Naval base.

This next generation Pacific 24 Mark-4 will be deployed on Royal Navy ships such as the Off Shore Patrol Vessels, as well as the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers due to arrive in Portsmouth in 2017. The RIBs are the workhorse of the Royal Navy, deploying from ship or shore at speeds of up to 38 knots (44mph) as a rapid response craft to perform fast rescue, anti-piracy and counter-narcotics missions, the company said in a statement Monday.

The Pacific 24 Mark-4 RIB will include shock absorbing seats which will minimise crew fatigue, allowing them to travel up to six-times the distance.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “These 60 new RIBs provide a vital capability to the Royal Navy and are a clear benefit of the £178 billion this government is investing in new military equipment.

Les Gregory, Product & Training Services Director at BAE Systems, said: “Our focus for the next generation Pacific 24 was to extend the operational capabilities of a boat’s crew through the use of shock-absorbing seats designed to reduce driver and crew fatigue. “The new seats provide significantly greater performance but are much heavier, so we faced an additional challenge to reduce the weight on the boat elsewhere to compensate. Structural composites and a lighter engine gave us the biggest weight savings, whilst ensuring we maintained the necessary payload requirements.”

The fourth generation Pacific 24 RIB is a significant step-up from its predecessors.

It features a 370HP twin turbo diesel electronic engine with inbuilt self-diagnostic technology. The boats have also gained the Safety of Life at Sea accreditation meaning they can now be used for rescue operations.

News of the contract award follows the Company’s first in-water demonstration of an unmanned RIB. The BAE Systems-funded development is being designed as a potential retrofit to the Pacific 24 RIB. It has the potential to change the face of the Royal Navy by allowing crews to carry out vital tasks such as high speed reconnaissance and remote surveillance, while keeping sailors out of harm’s way.

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