Lockheed to Upgrade British Air Defense Command System

The British Army has contracted aerospace firm Lockheed Martin to upgrade its command-and-control battlespace management system to extend its service life.

Known as Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP), the air defense early warning system was provided to the army in 2014. As it approaches the end of its service life, the modernization agreement would extend system deployment to 2029.

Currently deployed by the British Army worldwide, LEAPP provides air defense early warning through airspace management, surveillance, and ground-based command and control. The system provides an operational advantage by enabling real-time command and control data sharing.

In addition to system extension, the upgrade would boost command and control capabilities to ensure effective communication via the military’s tactical data link network used by NATO.

Forgoing Initial Bid

When the UK Ministry of Defence initially issued requirements to upgrade its air defense command system, system supplier Lockheed Martin UK said it could not do the job because of the $13.5 million price tag the military had in mind.

Lockheed Martin UK business development manager Richard Turner said the defense ministry tried to be as “diligent” as possible to get command and control capability as inexpensively as possible. However, the company insisted the amount was too low for the upgrade requirements.

Other defense firms bid on the project, but they ran into similar issues as Lockheed, resulting in failed negotiations.

However, after several failed attempts, Lockheed and the UK Ministry of Defence agreed to collaborate on the program for $27 million.

‘A Strategic Capability’

British Air Defence Group commander Graham Taylor said that the country’s recent investment in air defense upgrades illustrates the military’s commitment to modernization “across a spectrum of capabilities.”

He further stated that the army’s counter-air warfare group would continue to employ LEAPP alongside other ground-based air defense capabilities to allow the British Army to initiate partnerships in integrated air and missile defense.

Lockheed Martin UK vice president Lee Fellows stated that extending the in-service date of LEAPP is “a strategic capability” for the country.

“Today’s multi-domain integration environment requires digital ready systems that deliver advanced capabilities and the ability to share real-time battlespace management data between platforms and users,” Fellows said. “The upgraded LEAPP capability has been advanced with exactly this in mind.”

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