Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have agreed to link up on the US Federal Aviation Administration's en route automation modernisation (ERAM) programme, ending a dispute that threatened to derail the $1 billion effort to upgrade the USA's core air traffic control system.

Under the agreement, Raytheon will become a major subcontractor to Lockheed Martin on the ERAM programme, while Lockheed Martin will become a subcontractor to Raytheon on the $1.7 billion standard terminal automation replacement system (STARS) programme to upgrade the FAA's terminal control centres.

The FAA had planned to award the ERAM contract without competition to Lockheed Martin, which supplied the present automation system, but was forced by a protest from Raytheon to open the programme without favouring the incumbent supplier.

Following the deal, Lockheed Martin has received an initial $10 million risk-mitigation contract to begin work on ERAM, with Raytheon contributing to the development of flight and surveillance data processing systems. The company's ERAM team already includes Boeing, Computer Sciences, Harris and Northrop Grumman. The upgrade of hardware and software at 21 air route traffic control centres must be completed by 2008 if planned capacity and efficiency improvements are to stay on track.

Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, will assist with the transition from its common automated radar terminal system to Raytheon's STARS at the USA's busiest approach control centres. Raytheon is under contract to install up to 173 STARS systems for the FAA and 199 systems for the US Department of Defense over the next decade.

Source: Flight International