UK ‘s air traffic services provider NATS has won a seven year contract extension to continue its work with QinetiQ to facilitate live weapons tests at ranges, including the use of state of the art fighter aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS).
QinetiQ operates and manages some of the MOD’s core Test and Evaluation (T&E) Air Ranges, which are operated under a 25 year Long Term Partnering Agreement for delivering T&E and training support, services to the MOD, NATS announced in its press release on Monday.
Working with QinetiQ at the ranges is very different to conventional air traffic management. NATS’ role is to advise on and devise the air traffic management element of each trial, working to ensure the vehicles – whether they are fighter jets, RPAS, ships or tanks – are where they need to be for any particular test to ensure that the right data can be captured for analysis.
Air traffic controllers also have to keep the airspace ‘sterile’. Infringements into segregated ‘Danger Area’ airspace are always an issue wherever they occur, but never more so than where fast jets and live weapon trials are taking place.