MoD spend £23m with IBM to monitor aircraft movement

The Ministry of Defence has signed a five year deal with IBM to manage the Royal Air Force air surveillance command and control systems.

Under the £23 million contract, Defence Equipment and Support, an MOD subsidiary and IBM will work on the management of a system used to individually identify and monitor two million movements of aircraft in flight over the UK yearly, on a round-the-clock basis.

The IBM system is also used to identify every one of the thousands of aircraft, including established flight plans, that are in the skies above the UK at any moment of the day.

The system tracks aircraft movements and analyses real-time data to find suspicious activity. The Royal Air Force can assign jet fighters to intercept any aircraft that enters NATO and national airspace without proper authorisation or is acting suspiciously.

IBM originally designed and implemented the system in 2001. The new agreement continues the existing relationship and covers support for all hardware, software, training, helpdesk and on-site assistance to meet all Royal Air Force requirements.

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Under the deal extension, the system will be upgraded to incorporate new types of data feeds from commercial air traffic control centres.

Other planned enhancements to the system include improving radar and data-link technology so that information from aircraft in flight can be transmitted and incorporated into the new system.

Graham Richards, Project Manager, Air Command and Control Systems Integrated Project Team said "For both ourselves and IBM, it was an impressive achievement to complete such a large and complex project to the satisfaction of users, within budget and on schedule."