The Ministry of Defence will invest up to £80 million in a new computer system in a move they say will boost the RAF’s ‘speed and accuracy in protecting the skies’, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.

Project Guardian, the new Air Command and Control System, will support the continued early detection and rapid response to potential hostile or suspect aircraft that pose a threat to UK sovereignty, be that terrorists or state-based actors say the MoD.

“This project will see the current systems at RAF bases in the UK and Falkland Islands replaced with the new technology. It will allow the RAF to exercise command and control of UK and NATO fighters to intercept aggressive or suspect aircraft that are a threat. The RAF routinely intercept, identify and escort aircraft that transit international airspace within the UK’s area of interest and continue to be on call 365 days a year.

Since 2013 RAF jets have launched 68 times to intercept or monitor suspect aircraft in the skies around Britain – half of these in response to Russian planes.”

IBM Services in the UK is developing and install the replacement system, with work being carried out by a dedicated team of specialists at IBM locations across the country.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“With hostile regimes such as President Putin’s Kremlin ripping up the international rulebook and terrorists still targeting our way of life, this cutting-edge technology gives our RAF the upper hand in the face of rapidly changing and intensifying global threats.

This investment will play a vital role in making sure our fighter pilots are primed and ready to keep Britain safe and to counter aggression from those who seek to cause us harm.”

The Air Command and Control System is the computer system that takes in data to generate the Recognised Air Picture – what the RAF describe as ‘a dynamic, real time depiction of aircraft in the airspace the UK control or patrol, with each being identified as friendly or hostile’.

 

19 COMMENTS

      • That article says…

        “The Meteor—combined with a new active electronically scanned array radar—should help to keep the Typhoon relevant as an air superiority fighter for years to come.”

        I assume the AESA radar being talked about is CAPTOR-E in the Typhoon itself in which case that confirmation that CAPTOR-E is on the way is another very big deal for Typhoon as well as Meteor being added but we also have even more excitement to come. In Jan 2016 it was confirmed that the U.K. & Japan would be collaborating on JNAAM (Joint New Air-to-Air Missile) which as I understand it is essentially Meteor with the new Mitsubishi AESA seeker in it. Meteor is already great and has a roadmap to get ever greater.

        Amidst the doom and gloom there really are quite a few bright spots if you look carefully enough.

        • There are always bright spots Julian! More than dark spots.

          The issues are always numbers and HMG attitude. Always.

          Kit. Training. Professionslism. Experience. Prestige. HM forces are 1st rank with those.

          • Agreed, although as well as HMG’s attitude I would probably add most of the general public’s attitude as well, in no small part egged on by some terrible defence reporting from the mainstream media. I definitely agree with all of your positives – it’s a good list.

            Don’t forget out world-class intelligence services either 🙂

          • Course not Julian
            Our Intelligence services are in a better place than the military IMO.

  1. Well now it’s apparent why such a system is costing an eye watering £80million, those 3 letters IBM. Despite noises from government about competitive rendering and giving work to SME’s, it’s always the very big IT suppliers who win government contracts, and then invariably overrun on budget or fail to deliver to specification.

    • Nothing particularly eye watering about the price, if anything it sounds pretty cheap considering the nature of the project.

      IBM have decades of experience developing and maintaining this kind of system. They already provide NATOs allied command and control system. They are a major player in C3/4I system development and deployment.

    • Sean, I was going to ask, all that for only 80 million??? Who are they kidding? Sounds too small a figure to me for a new air defence C2 system…

  2. Be fascinated to know what extra it brings because when you strip the numbers back it’s £60m with options for £20m extras. It also includes 5 years 24/7 support, so the technology upgrade is likely about half that £60m. £30m(ish) new kit not to be sneezed at, but suspect it’s key elements, not a whole brand new system.

  3. ASCS replaced by ACCS.

    Is this just for the RAP C3 function at NADOC and the CRCs or does the price include updates to the data links, JTIDS, SSSB’s, Network Nodes and other comms parafanalia at the varied Remote Radar Heads and other places?

    • Indeed. And if there are technology upgrades does it include any software development work, either upgrades to the software functionality? Even if “only” work to port it to a new platform that can be a significant project in itself if the old and new architectures are quite different.

      Costs on these projects really can start to add up when all the extras get thrown in. New computer rooms? Aircon? Backup generators & UPS? IBM can do the whole turnkey service so it would be interesting to know just how much is being updated.

    • I’d like to think the system will include MADL for the F-35, but the baseline price doesn’t seem large enough for it. I hope it is one of the options.

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