Icarus: enhancing survivability of British Army Vehicles

21 November 2018

The Icarus programme will provide the best protection for UK armed forces, which is of paramount importance to the Ministry of Defence and the UK industry that supports it. 

Providing the best protection for our armed forces is of paramount importance to the Ministry of Defence and the UK industry that supports it. The exploitation of the latest scientific innovation plays a key role in achieving this objective. 

The UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) ‘Icarus’ Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) announced by the Defence Secretary at DSEi 2017, seeks to find a way to maximise the protection of British Army vehicles against current and future weapons in constantly evolving operational environments.

Despite advances in both armour and mobility, the survivability of any vehicle is enhanced greatly if it can first reduce the chances of it being targeted by threats such as Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and Anti-Tank Guided Weapons (ATGW).

Dstl has commissioned Leonardo to lead a team of UK companies and academic institutions, to develop and demonstrate a solution that will affordably integrate ‘best of breed’ technologies in a category known as ‘Active Protection Systems’ (APS).

APS technologies generally fall into either of two categories: ‘soft’ APS solutions that are focused on early threat detection and which attempt to disrupt, decoy or spoof the incoming threat and ‘hard’ APS systems that seek to defeat the incoming weapon system by physically intercepting it, known in military terminology as a ‘kinetic effect’.

The Leonardo team brings together a range of UK industry experts in their respective fields as well as representation from UK academia that can draw upon previous UK investment in related technical areas. Team members working to deliver the Icarus TDP are BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin UK, Ultra Electronics, Frazer-Nash, Vetronics Research Centre, Abstract Solutions, Roke Manor Research and SCISYS. Leonardo was chosen as the  lead due, in part, to our experience in the field of ‘open-systems’ integration such as our instrumental role in the development of the UK’s Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) standard and the related NATO-GVA (N-GVA) standard.

One of the primary objectives of the team is to develop and demonstrate a UK sovereign Modular, Integrated Protection System (MIPS) Electronic Architecture (EA) that enables “best of breed” APS sensors and countermeasures to be selected, integrated and deployed across the Army’s fleet of land vehicles in order to defeat the wide range of battlefield weapon threats present in varying operational environments.

As such the Leonardo team is currently leading a UK industry APS Community of Interest and Action (UKACIA) working group in conjunction with Dstl. The purpose of the group is to engage with UK industry to ensure that the very best APS technologies available – now and in the future – are considered within the MIPS EA.

We periodically update this page to provide the latest information on the ICARUS programme and the UKACIA working group.

During the APS Focus Day of the SMi Future Armoured Vehicle Survivability Conference in London on 13 November 2018, the Leonardo team presented an update on the Icarus programme and the team’s work towards generating recommendations for both the ‘deployed’ and the ‘support’ infrastructure of a future Modular Integrated Protection System (MIPS). Once agreed by UK government and industry, these recommendations will be contained in a newly announced NATO standard for “Land DAS Architecture” STANAG 4822.

The next UKACIA meeting will be planned around reviewing initial standardisation thoughts and will be held during Q2 2019. The date, location and joining details will be announced and published on this site in the new year.

The aim of the programme remains for enduring and dependable (safe, secure, reliable) electronic infrastructure technologies to be identified so that they may be embedded across all relevant UK armed forces land vehicles, enabling modularity in a hard-real-time Automatic Protection capability.

The team is therefore keen to hear from further providers of candidate real-time electronic and software technologies; for example middleware, network guard, safety and operating system products.

We are inviting people to join the UKACIA working group to help inform and develop recommendations for the ICARUS TDP.

The working group meets twice per year, one day duration, in southern UK location(s) and has the following objectives:

  • Identify industry stakeholders with expertise/technology elements for Active Protection Systems.
  • Add technical direction to the Icarus TDP.
  • Build an effective communication network so that industry partners can report on applicable technical developments within their organisations and can be kept up to date with Authority research activities in this area.
  • Ensure that MIPS solutions are acceptable to, and seen as best practice by, potential adopters.


We would encourage you to join the group should you fall into any of the following categories: Icarus Delivery Team; APS Product Supply Chain, MOD Departments; Academic Bodies; Legislative Organisations.

Why Apply?

  • Receive updates on MOD’s thinking and approach to the future acquisition, deployment, and sustainment of active protection capability across the British Army vehicle fleet.
  • Have opportunities to learn about and influence the future development and adoption of APS and equipment in the British Army via review and critique of the evolving MIPS Standard.
  • Receive briefings on progress of the Icarus programme.
  • Have the opportunity to offer the supply of equipment and services to support the Icarus demonstration of MIPS Architecture capability, subject to compliance with performance and security requirements.

UKACIA application form

Download the form below and send the completed application to: UKAPScommunity@leonardocompany.com. All applications will be reviewed and membership granted subject to agreement of MOD and Leonardo