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News story: £1.5 billion UK military air traffic management deal

AQUILA, a joint venture between Thales and NATS, has been awarded the £1.5 billion contract, which is expected to save the taxpayer up to £1 billion over the next 22 years.

This includes a £400 million investment in advanced surveillance radars and a wide range of sophisticated equipment such as navigation aids and radios.

Starting next year, the programme will see approximately 70 contracts merged into one and will cover the operation of more than 60 MOD sites in the UK and overseas, including in Cyprus, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands and Ascension Island.

Inside the air traffic control tower at RAF Brize Norton [Picture: Paul Crouch, Crown copyright]

The programme, known as Marshall, will deliver a long-term, modern and reliable military air traffic management (ATM) service that will allow aircraft to operate safely in all weathers.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, 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.

An air traffic controller at work at RAF Brize Norton [Picture: Paul Crouch, Crown copyright]

He continued:

This deal also represents excellent value for money for the taxpayer, securing up to £1 billion of savings when compared to the myriad of contracts it replaces.

This is an excellent example of our determination to drive down costs while fully meeting the needs of the armed forces.

AQUILA will be contracted to supply, maintain and install new and updated ATM equipment and train both maintainers and operators.

Over the life of the contract – and when compared with current practices – Marshall will deliver significant savings through new equipment and efficiencies and bring the MOD fully up to date with the latest advances in technology.

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In a minute someone will denounce it as waste of money that could go it kit for Afghanistan.

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