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09 May 2006. Thales UK has been awarded a study contract by the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) to research potential changes to the current Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance & Control (ASaC) system to ensure its capability meets the future needs of the MoD. Thales UK is the prime contractor for the Sea King Mk7 system.

Part of a landmark three-way industrial collaboration with the Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) and Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) Integrated Project Team (IPT), Thales will act as a lead contractor working with AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin. The three companies will study potential enhancements to the Sea King Mk7 mission system in order to sustain its capability and contribute to meeting future MASC requirements.

Concurrently, two other study contracts have been awarded to AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin, who will each lead a similar three-way team to assess airframe and mission system options for the MASC programme.

The projects, the first of a series of focused assessment studies, will take between seven and 15 months to complete and represent approximately £3.5m of business for the companies.

The team was formed to offer the DPA a cost-effective mechanism to assess potential options for the MASC programme, according to Richard Deakin, managing director of Thales Aerospace UK.

“Each of us is looking at potential options for the future of MASC using our own specific strengths. This is a unique and pragmatic agreement between the companies, and was created to allow access to our combined depth and breadth of leading expertise in our fields,” said Deakin. “I am delighted with the combined approach we have taken – it will help the MoD determine the best way forward for the MASC programme”.

Ron Christenson, group managing director for Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems said: “This award is yet another indication of how the strong collaboration between the Royal Navy and Lockheed Martin since the early 1990s has made the Merlin the very best helicopter system of its kind.

“This joint approach will allow the MoD to access the very best technological knowledge and experience to drive this important programme forward.”

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