QinetiQ achieves commencement of service for the Combined Aerial Target Service to UK's armed forces on time and budget

01 Apr 2008

QinetiQ has today brought into service two important elements of the Combined Aerial Target Service (CATS) for the UK's armed forces, having completed a series of complex verification and evaluation trials on-time and within all the operational constraints. This contract, worth up to £308m over 20 years, was awarded to QinetiQ by the MOD on 14th December 2006.

Through the contract, QinetiQ will provide a service that meets the UK MOD’s unmanned sub-sonic aerial target requirements worldwide, including ground-based air defence training, aerial target services for the Royal Navy, and an air-to-air service for the RAF.

Both the Banshee basic aerial target and the Pop-up ground-based helicopter target, manufactured and supplied by Meggitt Defence Systems, are available via CATS with immediate effect. Validation work continues as planned so that the intermediate Voodoo aerial target will enter into service at the start of 2009. The Mirach advanced aerial target, which QinetiQ currently operates at Aberporth in South Wales as part of the 25-year Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) for Test and Evaluation and Training Support services, is also on-track to come into service under the global CATS provision contract in June 2009.

“Over the past year the CATS team has worked tirelessly to ensure that this complex service came into operation on the agreed date - and with the Service Commencement Certificates having just been signed and issued by the TEST IPT, we’ve met that objective,” explained Mary Carver, MD of QinetiQ’s iX Managed Services sector. "Over the next two decades, CATS will provide a flexible service worldwide that is key to the air defence training of the UK's armed forces. This contract is a real success for QinetiQ and with the recently announced £951m firm price agreement covering our LTPA provision for the next five-years, it confirms QinetiQ’s position as a major provider of high end managed services to UK defence and our ability to consistently deliver professional and value for money solutions more globally."

In order to meet the designated operational date of 01 April 2008 for Banshee and Pop-up, QinetiQ had to work with its suppliers to develop the service and complete a complex safety case to satisfy all the necessary MOD agencies. Critical programme milestones have included delivery of the environmental impact assessments, proving airworthiness for the targets and ensuring compliance with flying regulations. QinetiQ has also had to develop the required operational infrastructure and processes to deliver a global service, plus complete a full end to-end demonstration of the capability.

“We’re working closely with our industry partners to ensure CATS provides UK armed forces with a cost effective and globally available service,” added Alan Dukes TEST IPT leader. “It has been a collective team effort that has involved the entire supply chain working together to establish and then deliver all the elements needed. The achievements to date provide a firm platform to go forward and the team has clearly demonstrated that they can meet the objectives within the time-lines set. We must not however underestimate the challenges ahead as the team now focuses on both delivering CATS on an operational basis and completing the complex verification and evaluation trials for the remaining targets.”

Each of the proposed aerial target technologies has met a strict selection process. A key feature of CATS is that QinetiQ’s independence from manufacturers allows it to make use of the best proven targets on the market both today and in the future.

The QinetiQ team will deliver the first operational deployment under CATS in April, with targets shipped to the Falkland Islands where they will be used to train Army ground based air defence units stationed there. This will then be followed by deployments to Manorbier in Wales later in the month and at BATUS in Canada in May.

The CATS programme also won the ‘Best Deal to Sign’ at the 2007 Public Private Finance Awards.

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QinetiQ achieves commencement of service for the Combined Aerial Target Service to UK's armed forces on time and budget