Thales and NATS joint venture firm Aquila has received a contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to upgrade and sustain air traffic management (ATM) at military airfields in the UK and overseas.

Under the £1.5bn contract, the joint venture will supply, maintain and install new and updated ATM equipment and train both maintainers and operators.

Specifically, the company will deliver a system-wide modernisation and rationalisation of the current fragmented system. It will also establish a flexible ATM service that complies with known regulatory requirements and is future-proofed to address any potential change in the regulatory and technological landscape.

The contract was awarded as part of Project Marshall, which seeks to modernise ATM service at more than 100 MoD locations. This includes more than 60 airfields and ranges in the UK and overseas, such as Cyprus, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands and Ascension Island.

UK Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Minister Philip Dunne said: "Enabling our military aircraft to continue to operate as safely and efficiently as possible is absolutely vital.

"This significant investment will ensure we have an advanced and secure service at MOD sites in the UK and abroad and will support deployed UK and coalition forces worldwide."

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By GlobalData

The Aquila solution introduces four new ATM hubs to enable UK military services to be centralised, thereby streamlining delivery and making better use of new technology.

NATS chief executive officer Richard Deakin said: "I’m delighted that the Aquila proposal has been selected, as it was low risk, with proven credibility to deliver ATM service transformation in the UK and with safety at its heart.

"This significant investment will ensure we have an advanced and secure service at MOD sites in the UK and abroad."

"Our solution will help the MOD achieve very significant cost savings over many years."

Maintenance services under the contract will be delivered through a regional support model of six UK regions, ensuring quick response times whenever an issue is identified.

The MoD expects Aquila’s solution to bring savings of approximately £1bn to the UK Government over the lifetime of the contract.

Work under the contract, which combines approximately 70 agreements, begins in April 2015 and will run through until 2022.

Image: An UK air traffic controller at work at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK. Photo: courtesy of Paul Crouch, Crown copyright.

Defence Technology