NATO expected to award a $1.7 million concept definition phase in first quarter of 2004

AMS has joined the Raytheon-led team bidding to supply NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system. The BAE Systems/Finmeccanica joint venture says it expects a non-disclosure contract signed last week to lead to risk-sharing over the next few weeks as Raytheon finalises the supplier list for its Co-operative Transatlantic AGS Solution (CTAS).

Raytheon held talks with aerospace firms from NATO nations last week in Brussels and is expected to publish a list "which complies fully with the rules on pro rata industrial participation" says vice-president integrated airborne systems, Dr Richard Anderson.

AMS expects to be "a first level partner" and supply ground radar elements and sensor integration of the battlefield surveillance system, says Dr Gustavo Scotti di Uccio, AMS NATO account manager.

Raytheon is stressing the greater range and altitude of its chosen platform, the Bombardier Global Express business jet, compared with the Northrop Grumman-led Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution (TIPS), which uses an Airbus A321.

Raytheon has conducted around 95% of NATO-required capability testing through 300h of aerodynamic tests on a Global Express modified for the UK's ASTOR project.

Raytheon expects the CTAS aircraft to have 9% less altitude and 30% less range than an unmodified Global Express. The CTAS is likely to have a 45,000ft (13,725m) ceiling, compared with 51,000ft for the business jet; and fly around 9,250km (5,000nm) compared with 12,400km, says Anderson.

The 10,000ft greater altitude capability than the Airbus A321 would offset a smaller radar aperture on the business jet, adds Anderson. Raytheon will release final performance data in November, when NATO receives completed studies from both prime contractors.

Raytheon is to put forward two proposals using either eight aircraft flying two simultaneous orbits, or five Global Expresses combined with seven unmanned air vehicles (UAV). Raytheon will consider the Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk UAV - being bid by the rival TIPS consortium - as well as its preferred choice of the General Atomics MQ-9B Predator B drone.

NATO is expected to award a €1.5 million ($1.7 million) concept definition phase in the first quarter of 2004, which will lead to a design and development phase worth €350 million prior to the €3.15 billion acquisition phase starting in 2007 for a 2010 entry into service.

Source: Flight International