Air Traffic Control Modernization Reaches Major Milestone

NAVAIR’s Air Traffic Control and Combat Identification Systems Program Office (PMA 213) had a leading role

By PMA 213 and NAVAIR Public Affairs.

The Department of Defense’s National Airspace System Modernization Program reached a major milestone in June when Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Keith Krieg, signed a Program Decision Memorandum authorizing full-rate production for the new system. NAVAIR’s Air Traffic Control and Combat Identification Systems Program Office (PMA 213) had a leading role in the effort to field this major modernization program.

“This program, usually referred to as ‘NAS Mod’, is a joint effort by the Federal Aviation Administration and DoD to upgrade all U. S. federal terminal radar approach control facilities nationwide and abroad with common state-of–the-art digital systems,” according to Rob Bellamy, NAS Mod Program Manager.

Changes have been made inside and outside the control tower, with the integration of three key components: a new digital airport surveillance radar to replace the older, analog ASR-8 radar; a new software-driven air traffic controller display system dubbed the DoD Advanced Automation System; and a Navy-unique, everything-at-your-fingertips information management program simply called the "Visual Information Display System" (VIDS).

“The new radar, processor, display and communications equipment produced in this program will both enhance the efficiency of the National Air Traffic Control System and reduce operating costs,” Bellamy continued.

Use of interoperable digital systems enables faster and safer management of air traffic as aircraft proceed from one air traffic control facility to another. Training and support costs are reduced by the use of common systems all receiving centralized maintenance and repair support from the FAA.

The Navy and Marine Corps will ultimately convert all airfields to these new systems. Some have already received the equipment like Naval Station Rota, Spain, the first overseas site to be converted, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. and Marine Corp Air Station Beaufort, S.C.

The systems have proven more capable, reliable and user friendly than the previous analog systems. Signing this PDM paves the way for full fielding of this critical DoD program.

Photo: Tower and VIDS display.

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