BAE to upgrade RAF jets

The MoD has awarded BAE Systems two contracts worth £350m to upgrade equipment including secure communications and tactical data links in RAF Tornados and Harriers.

The tactical data links will send operational information in text format direct to the cockpit, with the aim of enhancing the crew’s awareness to the surrounding situation and reducing the possibilities of friendly fire engagements. The improved secure communications will allow pilots to talk securely to air controllers on the ground, the AWACS surveillance and other combat aircraft on the same operation, minimising the risk of hostiles intercepting information.

The upgrades consist of installing Secure Communications, TIEC and the Paveway IV precision guided bomb (PGB) onto the Tornado GR4, and a second secure radio channel and Tactical Information Exchange Capability (TIEC) onto the Harrier GR9.

The planned upgrades for Harrier will take place at RAF Cottesmore and the work for Tornado will take place at BAE Systems’ site at Warton and integrated at RAF Marham.