Britain’s Defence Ministry is pushing forward key programs it wants to get under contract before the procurement process gets entangled in an upcoming general election, a new strategic defense and security review and likely budget cuts next year.
Last week, defense officials accelerated the £1.5 billion (US $2.4 billion) Project Marshall deal won by Thales UK and NATS to provide military air traffic control and management services to the British military.
British defense procurement minister Philip Dunne described bringing forward the decision date on the winning contractor by nearly a year as a “sprint across the line at the end of a marathon program.”
That’s a reference to the fact the MoD has been trying to do a deal on Project Marshall, and its predecessor Joint Military Air Traffic Services program, for at least a decade.
Part of the dash to the finish line is a recognition that 2015 is going to be a difficult time to get programs approved, but changing regulatory requirements and an aging air traffic management infrastructure also played a part in moving up the program schedule.
Project Marshall will see Thales and civil air traffic management provider NATS take over air traffic management systems and services at more than 100 MoD locations in the UK and overseas, including more than 60 airfields.
Dunne said the deal would “ensure we have an advanced and secure service at MoD sites in the UK and abroad and will support deployed and coalition forces worldwide.”
The arrangement consolidates more than 70 contracts with industry and is expected to save £1 billion over the duration of the 22-year program, Dunne said.