EADS and Lockheed Martin UK have won UK Ministry of Defence assessment phase contracts for the Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) programme.

Each will receive two-year, £40 million ($67 million) contracts, with MBDA and Thales Air Defence - respectively suppliers of the Rapier and Starstreak Hyper Velocity Missile (HVM) surface-to-air missile systems - due to receive subcontracts from the winning bidders. Rapier and HVM are in British Army service while the former is also operated by the Royal Air Force.

The first phase of GBAD is expected to cost £1 billion and will provide an overarching command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) infrastructure for the two short-range SAMs. GBAD is part of the UK's drive towards network-centric warfare.

Military off-the-shelf systems will be used and a winning bidder is due to be picked in 2005, leading to initial entry into service two years later.

Lockheed Martin's Team Athena comprises Advanced System Architects, AMS, Insys, Systems Consultants Services and Westland Helicopters.

EADS teamed with MBDA earlier this year to offer its Caracal C4I system, which is based on the German armed forces' EADS-developed Samoc surface-to-air operations centre. EADS and MBDA have demonstrated Caracal with the Rapier.

A second GBAD phase will begin in 2005, and is expected to be worth up to £6 billion. This will see the update and/or replacement of the HVM and Rapier.

Source: Flight International