An advanced Air Traffic Management (ATM) system being led by Aquila Air Traffic Management Services Ltd has become operational at RAF Shawbury, Shropshire as part of a £1.5 billion contract placed by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) in order to transform air traffic management for the U.K. military. RAF Shawbury is the first air base to receive the cutting-edge technology.
More than 300 Aquila jobs are being supported through the program, known as Program Marshall, which is expected to save the taxpayer up to £317 million over the next 22 years.
Program Marshall integrates and supports modern, innovative equipment with existing infrastructure at Ministry of Defense (MoD) airfields to enable safe and resilient military flying operations in support of the RAF, Royal Navy and British Army.
Variations of this solution will now be rolled out across more than 60 MoD sites in the U.K. and overseas by 2024, including Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
“This is a key milestone in a program that is vital to front-line capability,” said Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of DE&S. “It is an excellent example of collaboration between DE&S, the RAF and industry to provide U.K. Armed Forces with the technology to do their job effectively and safely. This is a key milestone in a program that is vital to front-line capability.”
The contract delivers a service provision arrangement which provides improved reliability, supportability, quality of service and cost savings by using Aquila Engineering teams to maintain the equipment. To date, service availability levels have been high, including throughout the global pandemic.
“As the first unit to transition to full operational service, the last year has naturally been both a challenging and exciting period of change. I am immensely proud of my team in turning this advanced equipment into an operational capability,” said Squadron Leader Steve Leech, Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (SATCO) at RAF Shawbury. “Working in ever-closer partnership with Aquila, controllers and duty holders now have a much deeper understanding of the air traffic management surveillance solution than ever before.”
New technologies being delivered by Aquila through the Marshall program include new STAR-NG Primary Radars and control tower ATM systems featuring TopSky, a digital air traffic control and management solution, as well as new radios, voice switches and a range of other airfield navigation and approach aids.
An important feature of Program Marshall is the innovative Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) technology. New to military aviation, WAM is specifically designed to meet the new Mode-S, international Air Traffic Management regulations and offers many advantages over traditional surveillance radars, including a high refresh rate, constant and up-to-date data and high reliability.
Michael Stoller, CEO of Aquila, said, “The full Marshall ATM Solution entering operational service at RAF Shawbury marks the achievement of a major milestone in the Marshall program. This new technology will transform air traffic management for our military in the U.K. and overseas, and enable our customer to realise significant operational and cost-saving benefits.”