House Subcommittee to Review Raytheon ATC Contract

The dogfight between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. for the government's air traffic control business moves to Capitol Hill, where executives from both companies are slated to testify March 14 before a House panel examining the Federal Aviation Administration's modernization efforts.

The scheduled hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation will focus on a Raytheon contract, awarded in September 1996, to provide the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System. The project has fallen behind schedule and suffered cost overruns, boosting the original $952 million price tag to some $1.4 billion.

Lockheed Martin's Air Traffic Management business unit is preparing to submit an unsolicited proposal to the FAA to scrap Raytheon's STARS program and replace it with Lockheed's Common ARTS system.

Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., also is recommending that the government conduct an independent cost-benefit analysis of its proposal compared to the approach for terminal air traffic control modernization.

"We can begin the delivery of new technology to FAA terminal facilities within 12 months and complete the deployment within three years," said Don Antonucci, president of the Lockheed Martin division. "Our proposal will save hundreds of millions of dollars, which the FAA can spend on other critically needed technology and safety enhancements."

Specifically, Lockheed Martin will offer to complete deployment of modern back room software and hardware to 44 terminal radar approach control facilities running 20- to 30-year-old systems. The company already has deployed 136 TRACONs with Common ARTS, a modern open architecture automation system.

When STARS was awarded in 1996, Antonucci said, Common ARTS and accompanying ARTS color displays were in the design stage, and operational suitability had not been proven.

"Today, Common ARTS is the world's most modern and functionally advanced terminal air traffic control system," Antonucci said. "The open system design can be easily expanded and upgraded to provide new efficiency tools to controller and maintenance work forces."

Lockheed Martin's unexpected proposal comes six weeks after the FAA announced it intended to award the company a contract to upgrade another portion of the air traffic control system without putting the contract out to bid.

Raytheon of Lexington, Mass., filed a protest against the FAA's plan to award Lockheed Martin the contract without competing it.

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