Tim Ripley

Expectations are high that the UK government will announce the winner of its $1.2-billion airborne stand-off radar (ASTOR) contest this week.

Although the UK's Ministry of Defence remains tight-lipped about the timing of the announcement, industry sources believe the decision will be made public during the Paris air show.

"Soon" is how a MoD spokesperson terms the timeline for the contest. Other MoD spokesmen say the government wants the decision to be made before the parliamentary recess in mid-July.

The tension is rising among the contenders.


At Paris, one source close to the programme says: "Now that Kosovo appears to be over, the government wants to get the decision out the way to make room for the beyond visual range air-to-air missile announcement, which is also to be made before the recess."

Media speculation in the UK has backed Raytheon as the likely winner of the contest, but at Paris yesterday company spokesmen were claiming no knowledge of any decision in its favour.

The other contenders in the competition are the Northrop Grumman/British Aerospace Wizard team and the Lockheed Martin/Racal Radar Defence Systems Team Astor.

Source: Flight Daily News