The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to invest up to £80m in a new air command and control system to help enhance the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) speed and accuracy in protecting the country’s airspace.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson announced That the Project Guardian will enable the service to exercise command and control of UK and Nato fighter jets in order to quickly detect and respond to potential threats or suspect aircraft.

As part of the project, the existing computer systems at the RAF bases in the UK and Falkland Islands will be replaced with the new technology.

The air command and control system is designed to receive data to generate the Recognised Air Picture, which is a dynamic, real-time depiction of aircraft in the airspace, with each identified as friendly or hostile.

“The equipment will ensure that new digital technologies, along with new requirements for future capabilities.”

The computer system upgrades will help improve the quick exchange of real-time command and control information, as well as the speed and accuracy of decision-making.

RAF National Air Defence and Space Operations director group captain Steven Blockley said: “The equipment will ensure that new digital technologies, along with new requirements for future capabilities, will also allow us to seamlessly exchange data and threat information across the new RAF platforms, such as the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and F-35 Lightning II, as well as continue to integrate with our Nato colleagues to ensure the UK National mission to protect our skies and the Nato Air Policing task are met fully.”

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Project Guardian is being led by the UK’s IBM Services, which is responsible for the development and installation of the replacement system under the £60m contract received from the MoD.

The contract involves costed options that, the MoD if exercises, would increase the total value of the award to £80m.

Work on the project is being carried out by a team of specialists at different locations across the country.