Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions has been selected to provide a Digital Tower system as an Operational Concept Demonstrator for the Royal Air Force at  RAF Lossiemouth.

Saab say the system is “a technological evolution in Air Traffic Control for civil airports that is opening up new possibilities which are equally relevant for military airfields”.

The RAF is investigating new concepts and capabilities, which could eventually change the way military ATC is conducted, both during normal operations and during time of increased threats.

The system will be installed at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland for demonstration and evaluation during 2020 and 2021. This will enable the RAF to assess the latest technology and evaluate future requirements for Air Traffic Control.

“The Royal Air Force is collaborating with Saab to develop RAF Lossiemouth’s Digital Tower demonstrator which will enable us to explore how we could modernise our air traffic services fit for a next generation air force. This is an exciting opportunity to develop technology that will enhance our personnel’s decision-making processes so that we continue to operate safely, securely and efficiently for decades to come,” says Chief of Staff – Capability, Air-Vice Marshal Simon Rochelle, RAF.

“We are proud to be trusted by the RAF to support their Digital Tower Operational Concept Demonstrator at Lossiemouth. Our extensive experience in digital ATC and focus on security, combined with the RAF’s operational knowledge, provide an excellent opportunity for Saab to show how the RAF could benefit from use of our Digital Tower system.  The demonstrator will enable the RAF to assess the advantages of digitalisation as well as our new sensor capabilities. Working with the RAF is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the military utility of our system”, said Per Ahl, CEO of Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions.

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Nigel Collins

I wonder what the future holds for the UK and Saab in the future?
Apart from Tempest that is!

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Nigel Collins

I found this interesting too. Most probably one of the reasons why they opted to join the Tempest programme? These images are from an official SAAB presentation for a next-generation fighter. It is bigger than the very compact Gripen and has two engines. It has a faceted fuselage with small internal weapon bays for air-to-air missiles. Bigger payload will be carried externally and there will be provision for tight integration with UCAVs. The general arrangement apart from the engines and stealth surfacing is similar to the flying scale demonstrator and this is a strong indication that this general design is… Read more »

Nigel Collins
DaveyB

A very interesting set of concepts, you can see the Gripen heritage in the top version. The second one is more in-line with Tempest for overall size. But its interesting to see how they still want a close coupled canard delta wing including a V tail. The canard combination in this design helps with short take off and landings, whilst the “all moving” v-tail replaces both a fin/rudder and elevator combination as seen on the F22. I believe some call them ruddervators. By having an all moving tail controlled by your digital flight control computer means you can get rid… Read more »

Nigel Collins

“As a collaboration between BAe, Saab and Leonardo should design something pretty amazing.”

Agreed, it will also be interesting to see what tec is passed on to Gripen E-F as well?

The inclusion of Britecloud and the next-generation radar sensing technology currently being developed for Tempest as examples.

Phil C

So is this basically the ability to close all control towers at all stations and replace them with a single control room in an office block? I’ve read about this being used to replace the control towers at civilian airports, but there would still be one digital control room per airport due to the amount of movements. I guess for the military, there are so few movements these days that a single digital control tower could easily handle all the RAF’s activity.

Ron

Not sure about that, I do remember reading that RNAS Yeovilton is meant to be one of the busiest airfields in the UK. Then again it is the FAA not RAF.

James Fennell

There are so few operational stations that each one must be pretty busy. To the main ones – Lossiemouth, Waddington, Marham, Coningsby, Brize, Benson and Odiham – can be added the FAA at Yeovilton and Culdrose and the AAC at Wattisham. Then there are the training bases and those with a lot of civil movements like Northolt. Add to that Mount Pleasant and Akrotiri and its quite substantial traffic. A few are quieter and could be consolidated using this system (reduced manning might help keep some satellite stations open too, increasing flexibility).

Pacman27

I believe this system (not sure if SAAB) is already in use for London City Airport, not sure if live or additional (testing)

Frank Morelli

This could be an elegant solution for peacetime ops, given that for multiple airfields it allows a limited number of ATC personnel to control them from a central location….but what happens in a war against someone big and nasty when you have to disperse off-peacetime base to survive? RAF Lossiemouth with the entire Poseidon force and 4 squadrons of Typhoons – what a target! In such a situation this would only be workable if there is a mobile deployable version, otherwise the RAF will still need lots of Controllers to function; and the base station needs to be underground and… Read more »