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Article from section published on November 7, 2012

BAE Systems

BAE Systems have a long history of supporting local charities. The Royal Navy Royal Marines Children’s Fund were proud to have been one of the charities which they have supported. This is just one example of the work that they do to support charities.


A wind tunnel used to test fighter jet aerodynamics, a Eurofighter Typhoon, and the racing wheelchair have more in common than might first meet the eye.

Scientists and engineers from BAE Systems, the UK’s leading defence, aerospace and security company, have applied the same technology and thinking used to develop the Eurofighter Typhoon, one of the world’s most advanced jet fighters, to enhance the aerodynamics of wheelchair racers at major international competitions.

Athletes were put through their paces at BAE Systems wind tunnel to help to find their optimal racing position. The wind tunnel normally used to test fighter jets at speeds of over 200mph showed how the wheelchair racers interact with the air around them, simulating racing speeds of over 30mph.

After testing, something called ‘computational fluid dynamics data’ helped the British wheelchair athletes to better understand how their body position affects wind resistance, allowing the team to improve the athletes’ seating positions as well as highlight their optimal posture for racing in different track situations.

The work is part of a £1.5 million Technology Partnership with UK Sport, the UK’s high performance sports agency, which has seen BAE Systems spend tens of thousands of hours applying high-tech defence technology and thinking usually implemented on the battlefield to help to crack challenges faced in elite sport.

A senior coach from the UK Athletics Paralympic Program commented “Disability sport is becoming increasingly competitive and wheelchair racing in particular is one of the most fiercely competitive of all events. With that in mind, we have to maximize every opportunity to ensure that our attention to detail is second to none in a fast-progressing sport. It’s about getting the edge, because winning a race can come down to hundredths and or thousandths of seconds. This partnership has helped improved the overall racing efficiency of our athletes and in turn their chance of success.”

Kelvin Davies, BAE Systems Project Manager for the Technology Partnership added: “This is a truly unique partnership, which uses defence and security technology and thinking to help improve the performance of elite athletes. We are proud to support our British  wheelchair athletes and hope our work will give our athletes a marginal edge to keep them on top of the podium.”

Dr Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation for UK Sport, said: “The partnership with BAE Systems has allowed UK Sport to apply the best of British industry to elite sport in this country. In Paralympic disciplines technology can play an important role in helping the athlete reach their full potential. UK Sport’s Research and Innovation team and more importantly the athletes are delighted with the results of this innovative work.”

BAE Systems are also helping the British wheelchair athletes by creating a new and improved version of the wheelchair in partnership with UK Sport, aerodynamic specialists TotalSim and DRAFT, a wheelchair manufacturer.

This new wheelchair will have improved rolling resistance in wheel alignment and tyre pressure, as well as the stiffness of the wheelchair frame, and it’s hoped that it will be used in future track and long distance road events to shave precious tenths of seconds off winning times with a stronger, lighter and more aerodynamic design.

Since 2008, BAE Systems has helped around 20 elite sports teams and 140 individual athletes and their coaches, including the taekwondo, track cycling, skeleton bobsled, sailing, short track speed skating, athletics, canoeing (slalom and sprint), badminton, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair racing, swimming, modern pentathlon and shooting teams. The defence and security company continues to provide expertise in structural and mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, mathematical modelling and simulation and materials science to some of Britain’s major medal winning sports.
About the Technology Partnership

BAE Systems and UK Sport have formed a technology relationship worth £1.5 million in kind to support British athletes in preparing for sporting success at the Olympics, Paralympics, World and European Championships. The relationship gives the British sporting world access to leading-edge technologies as well as considerable engineering knowledge and expertise. The two organisations have worked together since 2007.

About UK Sport

UK Sport is the nation’s high-performance sports agency. Its mission is to work in partnership to lead sport in the UK to world class success. Primarily this means working with our partner sporting organisations to deliver medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. UK Sport is funded by a mix of Government Exchequer and Lottery income, as well as private investment through Team 2012. More @

UK Sport’s Research and Innovation team, led by Dr Scott Drawer, strategically invests £1.5millon per year in collaborative projects to enhance the performance of British Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The team work with Innovation Partners in industry and academia who provide world class expertise to help make Britain’s athletes among the best prepared and most feared on the start line.


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