A contract between NATS and Harris Corporation, signed in March 2016 during World ATM Congress, concluded an 18-month technology review to source a Voice over IP (VoIP) communications system for the United Kingdom. "We felt Harris understood exactly what was needed. They have the technical knowledge and the sense of purpose to take this forward," said NATS CEO Martin Rolfe.
Over the coming months, NATS will move into the test and evaluation phase, with the longer-term objective of bringing the VCS21 system into operation in 2018.
Harris is already supplying its VCS21 voice communications solution to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under a 15-year contract worth USD291 million that was awarded in 2012. Ed Sayadian, president of Harris Mission Networks, told IHS Jane's the NATS contract represents a major milestone for Harris. "Three years ago we started to build a state-of-the-art, modern voice switch that combined our legacy knowledge with our understanding of IP networks, specifically in the ATM domain. Now we are going to have our VCS21 implemented in two of the biggest, most sophisticated ANSPs in the world." He added that, as a result of the merger with Exelis in 2014, Harris can access more expert resources to meet contracts of this kind.
Harris is delivering a cloud-based system capable of supporting the transition to IP communications. It will be installed at three UK facilities and include more than 600 controller working positions that can access up to 2,000 radios across NATS control operations. The scope of supply includes integrating legacy analogue systems while also supporting NATS' ambitious infrastructure modernisation programme.
Communications modernisation is part of a wider programme of investment by NATS that includes the appointment of Lockheed Martin as systems integration partner in January 2016. "We are building a supply chain. We are working in partnerships, side by side, under a collaborative framework that follows BS11000 principles," NATS supply chain director Tim Bullock told IHS Jane's .
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