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First Project Marshall ATM site becomes operational

A new Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire has become operational, in what is part of the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) GBP1.5 billion (USD2 billion) Project Marshall.

On 7 January, the MoD announced that RAF Shawbury had become the first of more than 60 locations to benefit from modern and improved air traffic management equipment.

In 2014 Project Marshall was awarded to Aquila Air Traffic Management Services Consortium, a joint venture between Thales and NATS (previously National Air Traffic Services). The contract spans a 22-year period and involves replacing military air infrastructure.

Under Project Marshall, the new ATMS “includes a GBP400 million investment in advanced surveillance radars and a wide range of sophisticated equipment such as tower systems, new surveillance and navigation aids and radios”, according to the announcement.

This equipment will be installed in the UK and overseas by 2024, including at sites in Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands. Digital upgrades such as touch screen communications, high resolution radar pictures, and improved positioning are set to equip upgraded controller platforms. The MoD claims that this will in turn enhance situational awareness for controllers and safeguard military flight operations.

With reference to the project, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin stated, “Ensuring our drones, fighter jets, helicopters, and cargo aircraft operate safely and efficiently is critical to maintaining our capabilities and supporting our service personnel. This state-of-the-art system is another example of how we are putting innovation at the forefront of everything we do”.

According to the MoD the programme is expected to save the UK taxpayer approximately GBP317 million over its duration.

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