Albania taps Lockheed Martin for air traffic control upgrades

Lockheed Martin Corp. has been awarded a $32 million contract to modernize the Albania national airspace system. This is the largest contract to be awarded to an American company by the Albanian Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the government's first commercially financed industrial project, the company said.

The contract was announced Jan. 9 at a reception held at the Albanian Embassy in Washington.

Upgrades to the air traffic control system are needed to handle flight demand and anticipated growth in air traffic. They include improvements to serve air traffic increases associated with the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Athens, Greece. The first phase of the four-year contract will establish an initial radar control capability for the Olympics.

Other tasks include new radar, navigation and communications equipment to link the air traffic system to other airports in the region; building a new airport tower and air traffic control center; and training Albanian controllers and technicians.

Lockheed Martin will provide its SkyLine system, which is used in Scotland, China, Korea and Argentina for automated air traffic management.

The company also will assist the Albanian directorate to obtain commercial financing for the project, said Jack Clemons, senior vice president of strategic programs for Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management.

"This contract represents the first step in an exciting and very significant partnership between Lockheed Martin and the Albanian government," Clemons said. "We look forward to working with the government of Albania to help increase airspace capacity while continuing to maintain their solid record of air safety."

Of equal significance is the system's bellwether status as the first to be commercially financed. "It is anticipated this project will encourage other international commercial investment in Albania," said James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Albania.

Based in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is the world's largest defense contractor, according to online business reference service Hoover's Inc. Its fiscal 2001 revenue was almost $24 billion, and it has 125,000 employees worldwide.

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