LONDON — Britain has taken a significant step toward updating its air defenses on the Falkland Islands by kick-starting a competition to supply a key element of a new ground-based system.
Defence Ministry officials recently briefed industry on its requirements for a battle management C4I system and have triggered the process toward selecting a contractor to do the work by issuing a pre-qualification questionnaire.
An MoD spokesman declined to confirm the system is destined for the Falkland Islands, saying that commenting on deployment details is “inappropriate” at this time.
Industry sources, though, said the BMC4I system is scheduled to head to the British overseas territory in the South Atlantic, some 300 miles off the coast of Argentina.
Britain and Argentina fought a bloody war over the islands in 1982 and the dispute concerning sovereignty of the territory, known in Buenos Aires as the Malvinas, continues to rumble on diplomatically.
Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Saab were among the companies known to have attended the February briefing by the British MoD.
The contract comes in what the British call its B1 funding category, which means the value of the BMC4I deal lays somewhere between £100 million (US $147 million) and £250 million.
The command-and-control system will be part of an air defense system that will include a new ground-to-air missile being developed by MBDA and Saab’s Giraffe radar, which is already in service with the British military.
The MoD spokesman said the BMC4I-based requirement is in the assessment phase with the contract award to go ahead, known here as the main gate decision, by May 2016.
Read More:UK Seeks To Update Falklands Air Defense.