By Tom Degun at the House of Commons in London

BAE_Systems_timing_system_in_the_Manchester_Velodrome_07-07-11July 7 - Britain's largest defence company BAE Systems is supporting more than 140 British athletes and their coaches in their quest for success on the world stage, including London 2012, they revealed today.

Since 2008, the company's engineers have given more than 15,000 hours of engineering time and expertise and provided access to the cutting edge technologies normally used to develop specialist defence equipment ranging from the Astute submarine to the Typhoon jet fighter.

The work is part of a £1.5 million ($2.4 million) value in kind technology partnership between BAE Systems and UK Sport, Britain's high performance sports agency, where engineering skills and technology solutions are channelled directly into the areas of elite sports development where it is needed the most, helping athletes to make those all-important marginal gains in training and competition.

Owen Evans, BAE Systems project manager said: "The nature of our business requires us to be at the forefront of technology, designing, developing and supporting some of the world's most complex and challenging engineering projects such as the new generation combat aircraft and nuclear powered submarines.

"We are proud to be able to pass on some of this expert knowledge to British athletes, to help give them a technology boost and potentially crucial performance advantage."

Since the five-year partnership was launched in 2008, BAE Systems' engineers have provided expertise to enhance training and equipment, covering events from taekwondo to speed skating and wheelchair racing to sailing.

A reception held here tonight was hosted by Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster and looked to celebrate some of the major achievements the two organisations had achieved since linking up.

One of the biggest successes was in bob skeleton where their technology helped to create "Arthur", the sled that propelled Amy Williams to Britain's first individual gold medal in three decades at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

Another major success has been using battlefield identification technology to introduce a sophisticated laser timing system at the Manchester Velodrome which has allowed up to 30 riders to race each other simultaneously, while coaches track their second-by-second performance in real time.

In sailing, predictive modelling software, originally designed for future nnmanned air vehicles to help the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), has been used to improve the accuracy of weather pattern forecasting in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.

Meanwhile in Paralympic sport, wheelchair racers Shelly Woods (pictured) and David Weir have spent time in a BAE Systems wind tunnel, normally reserved for testing Eurofighter typhoons, to examine their aerodynamic flow to highlight their optimal racing position.

"In our mission to support British athletes to be among the most feared when they reach the start line, we have to leave no stone unturned in our quest for success," said Scott Drawer, UK Sport's head of research and innovation.

"The support we receive via BAE Systems, and our other innovation partners, is key to giving our athletes the edge, both in training and competition, turning our relatively small team at UK Sport into a wider cast of thousands of the UK's best creative thinkers in science, engineering and technology."

BAE Systems and UK Sport have their next goal in sight - following detailed "human factors" analysis, they are working with UK Athletics to investigate the design of the racing wheelchair.

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