The British Army is planning to field the network enabled, Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) system by the year 2007, to introduce major improvement in its capability to defend against all types of modern air attacks including combat aircraft, attack helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned air vehicles.
GBAD will utilize the existing Rapier Field Standard C and High Velocity Missile (HVM Starstreak) air defense systems with an overarching Air Defense Command, Control, Communication, Computers & Intelligence (ADC4I) structure to provide earlier identification of targets at longer ranges and enhanced ability to combat threats. Such system, integrating legacy weapons systems and supporting assets, is judged to be essential to enable targets to be identified before they become a direct threat, to ensure the safety of friendly aircraft and eliminate fratricide as demonstrated in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003.
At the current stage, two teams are competing on the 1 billion pound program – one is Team Athena, a consortium led by Lockheed Martin, which comprises Lockheed Martin UK Ltd Integrated Systems, Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Sensor Systems, Alenia Marconi Systems, EDS, Westland Helicopters, INSYS Ltd, System Consultants Services Ltd and Advanced Systems Architectures Ltd. The other contender is a consortium led by the European Aeronautic Defense and Space (EADS), comprising EADS (UK) Ltd, EADS (N&G) and MBDA. Final selection is expected in 2005.
Phase 1 program will aim to achieve the required improvements incrementally from 2007 to 2010 to match the expected threat up to 2020. Another prime purpose of the program is to reduce the running costs of Rapier FSC and HVM by considering obsolescence issues and changes to existing support and training arrangements to improve efficiency and thus realize savings. Replacements for Rapier and HVM will be considered later in the program (phase 2). It is planned that the GBAD Phase 2 program will be taken forward collaboratively through a Memorandum of Understanding signed In 2003 with NATO allies – Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands and Norway.