New air traffic system operational with 300 UK jobs supported

  • £1.5 billion contract transforming air traffic management for the UK Armed Forces
  • RAF Shawbury first to benefit from advanced technology
  • Over 300 jobs supported through the scheme, including 150 in Fareham, Hampshire

Designed to ensure safe and resilient military air operations, the contract will integrate and support modern and innovative equipment with existing infrastructure. Variants will be deployed at more than 60 MoD sites in the UK and overseas by 2024, including Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

The equipment allows controllers to have better situational awareness and improve flight safety, thanks to digital upgrades, including touchscreen communications, clearer radar images and flight information and positioning, all of which will be available on upgraded controller consoles.

Around 300 jobs have been secured in Fareham and other parts of the UK since the contract was awarded to Aquila Air Traffic Management Services Ltd in 2014 – a joint venture between Thales and NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services).

Defense Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said:

Ensuring that our drones, fighter jets, helicopters and cargo planes operate safely and efficiently is essential to maintaining our capabilities and supporting our service personnel. This state-of-the-art system is another example of how we put innovation at the forefront of everything we do.

The £1.5 billion scheme, known as Marshall, delivers improved reliability, service quality and cost savings by using Aquila Engineering crews to service equipment. The scheme is expected to save the UK taxpayer up to £317million over the next 22 years.

The air traffic system includes a £400 million investment in advanced surveillance radars and a wide range of sophisticated equipment such as tower systems, new surveillance and navigation aids and radios.

Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of DE&S, the procurement arm of MOD, said:

This is a key step in a program essential to frontline capacity. It is an excellent example of DE&S, the RAF and industry working together to provide the armed forces with the technology needed to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Squadron Leader Steve Leech, Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (SATCO) at RAF Shawbury said:

As the first unit to transition to full operational service, the past year has understandably been a challenging and exciting time of change. I am immensely proud of my team for transforming this state-of-the-art equipment into an operational capability.

Working in ever closer partnership with Aquila, controllers and managers now have a much deeper understanding of the air traffic management monitoring solution than ever before.

Michael Stoller, CEO of Aquila, said:

The entry into operational service of Marshall’s complete ATM solution at RAF Shawbury marks the achievement of a major milestone in the Marshall programme. This new technology will transform air traffic management for our military in the UK and overseas and enable our customer to realize significant operational benefits and reduce costs.

The program supports the implementation of the Integrated Review and Defense Command Paper, released last year, which focused on more productive, active and globally deployed armed forces.

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