IBM receives 23 million pound UK Air Surveillance contract
12:00 AM, July 29, 2009
IBM and Defence Equipment and Support, a department of the UK MoD, today announced a five-year strategic agreement for IBM to manage the UK Air Surveillance Command & Control System (UCCS). The IBM system is used to identify every one of the thousands of aircraft that are in the skies above the UK at any moment of the day. It tracks their movements against filed flight plans and sifts through real-time data to pinpoint suspicious activity. As a result, Royal Air Force Aerospace Battle Managers at two interlinked centres, Royal Air Force Boulmer in Northumberland and Royal Air Force Scampton in Lincolnshire, are able to scramble Tornado or Typhoon fighters to intercept any aircraft that enters NATO and national airspace without proper authorisation or is acting suspiciously. In a typical year, the system will monitor as many as 2 million aircraft movements. Air Commodore Mark Wordley, Air Officer Battlespace Management, HQ Air Command, commented: "Continued support and development of the UCCS system remains vital to the defence of the UK Homeland. Furthermore the UCCS system supports key training activities essential for the preparation of Joint Forces deploying to operational theatres." The system was originally designed and implemented by IBM staff in the UK in 2001. The new agreement continues the existing relationship and covers the support for all hardware, software, training, helpdesk and onsite assistance to meet the most demanding requirements specified by the Royal Air Force. 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." IBM will also be responsible for upgrading the system. In plan are extensions to take new types of data feeds from commercial air traffic control centres. Future enhancements will exploit advances in radar and data-link technologies so that information from aircraft in flight can be transmitted and incorporated into the new system. IBM's innovative use of commercial off-the-self technology in a front-line defence system won it the 2007 Technology award from Management Consultants Association.
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