BAE Tornado deal to save MoD £500m

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BAE Systems is to harmonise its in-service support arrangements for the UK Royal Air Force's fleet of Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft under a deal worth almost £950 million ($1.8 billion).

The contract, announced late last month by the UK Ministry of Defence, is dubbed the Availability Transformation: Tornado Aircraft Contract (ATTAC), and will supersede numerous support projects by introducing an overarching framework for long-term operations of the GR4.

The MoD says the new set-up is expected to deliver savings worth more than £500 million over the first decade of operations. BAE meanwhile hopes to also use the system as a template for its future integrated support submissions for platforms including the Eurofighter Typhoon, BAE Nimrod MRA4 and Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

So-called depth maintenance of the GR4 fleet is to be centralised at RAF Marham in Norfolk, confirming an earlier MoD statement of intent to remove the work from the UK Defence Aviation Repair Agency's St Athan site in south Wales (Flight International, 28 September-4 October 2004).

The initial phase of the ATTAC project will see the consolidation by mid-year of current individual support contracts for activities such as combined maintenance and upgrade and logistics support, with a follow-on package to be agreed by December 2007 to add remaining avionics work and further engineering support services. BAE says this will extend the value of the ATTAC programme to around £1.5 billion until the GR4's planned retirement.

BAE upgraded 142 of the RAF's Tornado GR1/1As to the enhanced GR4 standard, with the service maintaining an active fleet of 123 of the type, according to Flight's MiliCAS database.