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’.