Published 04 March 2024

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Members of the DE&S Digital AI Team worked alongside 1710 Naval Air Squadron (based in HMNB Portsmouth), and Royal Navy Engineers worked collaboratively to produce the software tool named ‘Motherlode’.

Although delivered separately, the benefits from Motherlode will feed into the Defence Availability Centre, one of three cutting-edge centres set up by DE&S to help bring people together from across our defence industrial base to innovate, integrate and spin in new technologies as they develop.

Last October, the group used Wildcat to showcase Motherlode’s innovative new capabilities to the Minister of Defence Procurement James Cartlidge during a visit to RNAS Yeovilton.

Just three months later, Motherlode has now been upgraded so that it can provide richer data on specific airframes across both Merlin and Wildcat, including additional functionality to support ad-hoc mission planning and scenario modelling activity – giving a step change in data driven decision making.

This will enhance the user’s ability to process aircraft data at an unprecedented speed and ensure engineering problems are detected at the earliest possible point, rather than when the fault becomes problematic, allowing personnel to order spares ahead of issues arising.

Engineers can plan ahead and replace parts prior to operations or ensure spare parts are taken for when they will likely to be needed to reduce costs and increase availability of the airframe. We can also better estimate mission planning, shifting expensive and time consuming unplanned maintenance into more efficient planned maintenance.

Steve Hodson, Head DES Digital Automation, said:

“Working collaboratively with the RN engineers and operators of platforms was crucial in helping us understand the landscape and ensuring we built an intuitive tool they both understood and wanted to use.

“These rapidly delivered additional upgrades to Motherlode mean that the potential of this technology can be further exploited to provide a competitive edge to those operating in the UK and on the front line.”

Last year Lieutenant Commander Oli Burrows of 1710 Naval Air Squadron, a scientific and engineering support unit, told Forces News Motherlode allows the Royal Navy to “understand on a really grand scale how we maintain our aircraft.”