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UK MOD: Using innovative procurement techniques to rapidly deliver an explosive device detection system to protect UK forces

Working with the MOD and key industry partners, PA developed ‘Panama’, a ground-breaking vehicle-based improvised explosive device (IED) detection system that continues to save lives in Afghanistan.

PA’s main challenge was to find a middle path between bespoke and off-the-shelf options. While off-the-shelf solutions existed, they were only for use in manned vehicles, and customising an unmanned solution within the required timescale of under a year looked impossible. PA’s solution was to use obsolete ‘Snatch’ Land Rovers – 200 of which were awaiting disposal by the MOD – together with a proven IED-detection system.

The unmanned Panama capability keeps the crew out of harm’s way and protects troops' lives. A route can now be searched for IEDs at least 10 times faster. Panama took just 11 months to move from investment decision to operational use and will achieve £17M of savings.

In recognition of our work with the MOD on Panama, PA won the Platinum ‘best overall project’ award and the Innovation award at the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Awards. Read our media announcement.

Peter Smith, one of the judges of the awards, commented: "The judging team I was part of thought it was an outstanding project in its category, but I didn’t know till the event that it was also awarded the overall top prize. Despite strong competition, it was outstanding. It relates to a project to convert obsolete military vehicles into what are effectively remote-controlled “improvised explosive device” detection units for use in Afghanistan.

"The innovation came from both the way the project (including the consulting support) was run – remarkably quickly by any measure, let alone traditional MOD – and in the technology used to achieve the aims. The overall result is that lives are being saved – while the project came in under budget as well.

"At a time when consultants often get a lot of stick, as does the MOD, this was a reminder that consultants and clients, working together to combine different skills and knowledge, can deliver great results – quite literally, life-saving stuff."1

"The comprehensive skills and experience of the PA team helped us execute the role with confidence, and we have achieved results, many both within and outside of the team, thought impossible at the outset."


Group Captain Paul Ridge OBE, Manoeuvre support team leader, UK MOD

Our work with the UK MOD on Panama was awarded the top 'Platinum' prize at the 2012 Management Consultancies Awards. Find out more.

See how @PA_Consulting delivered an explosive device detection system to protect UK forces @DefenceHQ #innovation #PowerOfIngenuity

Contact the defence and security team