Invitations to tender issued for £1bn first phase

The UK Ministry of Defence has launched a two-phase programme potentially worth £7 billion ($10 million) to overhaul its ground based air defence system (GBADS).

A Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) source says a first phase, worth around £1 billion, is for a command-and-control (C2) system to enhance British Armyand Royal Air Force MBDA Rapier FSC and Thales High Velocity Missile (HVM) systems. Phase two, worth potentially £6 billion, is to develop new GBADS, starting with multi-national technology demonstration programmes (TDPs). The MoD says £450 million has been saved by combining a series of planned programmes into the two-phase initiative.

Invitations to tender (ITT) for phase one have been issued to Alenia Marconi Systems, EADS Defence Systems and Electronics, Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Oerlikon-Contraves, Raytheon Systems UK and Thales Defence. The missile manufacturers have also received ITTs for potential weapon updates.

The DPA source says two companies will be selected in December for a demonstration phase followed by downselect and final approval in 2005. Initial operational capability is planned for 2007, although the source says DPA is working to bring this forward.

He says the C2 system will enhance the HVM (the Starstreak missile) and Rapier systems by integrating them into a combined whole and improving crew situational awareness, avoiding the risk of fratricide. The systems are required because of the increasing likelihood of deployed UK forces facing unmanned air vehicles, cruise missiles and other threats.

DPA is negotiating a memorandum of understanding for international participation in phase-two TDPs. Countries expressing interest include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

Approval for phase two to enter an assessment stage is planned for 2005.The DPA source says likely TDPs include directed energy weapons and non line-of-sight missiles.

Source: Flight International