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

�1.5bn for next-gen military air traffic management system

A £1.5bn contract for the upgrade of the UK’s military air traffic management system including £400m for advanced surveillance radars has been awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Dubbed Marshall, the project will see the Aquila consortium – a joint venture between French aerospace and defence giant Thales and UK air traffic control company Nats – upgrading and maintaining 60 MoD-owned sites in the UK and oversees.

The project will involve installation of new equipment such as navigation aids, radios and next-generation surveillance radars at MoD sites including Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the Ascension Islands.

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

“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.”

As part of the project, due to start next year, approximately 70 contracts will be merged into one, allowing the MoD to save up to £1bn of taxpayers’ money over the project’s scheduled 22-year lifetime.

MoD said the project will allow the aircraft to operate safely in all weathers.

As part of the project, Aquila will maintain and install new equipment as well as update the existing one and train the maintenance workers and operators.

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