Thales and NATS Consortium To Transform UK MoD's Air Traffic Management At Military Airfields

  • Our Bureau
  • 12:53 PM, October 29, 2014
  • 4172

AQUILA, a joint venture between NATS and Thales, has signed a contract to deliver Marshall, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) programme to transform terminal air traffic management at military airfields.

The contract is valued at around £1.5bn over the course of its 22 year life-span. Marshall seeks to ensure a safe, efficient and sustainable Air Traffic Management (ATM) service for the UK Armed Forces. It will modernise ATM at over 100 MOD locations, in the UK and overseas, including more than 60 airfields and ranges.

AQUILA will deliver a system-wide modernisation and rationalisation of the current fragmented system, and establish a flexible ATM service – one that complies with known regulatory requirements and which is future-proofed to meet any potential change in the regulatory and technological landscape.

The contract scope supports ATM terminal operations, which will continue to be delivered by military air traffic operators. AQUILA will deliver new equipment, system upgrades, maintenance, support services and training. The AQUILA solution introduces four new ATM hubs – allowing services to be centralised, streamlining delivery and making better use of new technology.

Overseas airfields, Royal Navy Air Stations and the more geographically isolated UK airfields and ranges will continue to operate on a stand-alone basis, but with fully modernised approach and visual control rooms.

Maintenance services will be delivered through a regional support model of six UK regions, ensuring quick response times whenever an issue is identified. The regional teams will be supported 24/7 by a dedicated technical service desk located at NATS’ Control Centre in Hampshire; this centralised function will be staffed by highly-qualified ATM engineers, and will be responsible for service control and monitoring.

The MOD expects AQUILA’s solution to deliver the UK Government savings of approximately £1bn over the contract duration. 

AQUILA assumes responsibility for Marshall services on 1 April 2015. An asset replacement programme to install advanced ATM equipment will be phased in from that date; this will include new and upgraded surveillance radars, control and navigations systems.

Richard Deakin, CEO of NATS, said: “Marshall promises a genuine transformation for the UK’s military ATM. 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. Our solution will help the MOD achieve very significant cost savings over many years. By selecting AQUILA, the MOD is leading the world in extending the joint military/civil ATM approach, and Marshall will be a global showcase for the benefits it can deliver.”

Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said: “AQUILA brings together the best-in-class providers of ATM systems and services to deliver the optimum solution for UK military air operations. Thales will draw on its extensive experience of delivering mission critical services to the MOD, and from other infrastructure projects that have demanded 24/7 service availability and required significant upgrades on infrastructure that is in constant use. Marshall will showcase the best in UK innovation – from the delivery model and the long-term partnership with the MOD, to the leading-edge technology that will be deployed at the airfields.”