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Air Force, Martin Marietta halt ATARS program.

The Air Force and prime contractor Martin Marietta Technologies Inc. have agreed to what an Air Force spokesman called a "mutual cessation of all activity" on the Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (ATARS). Martin Marietta will stop all work on the program and provide all hardware to the government "as is," according to information provided by the Air Force.

A source at Martin Marietta said that "future funding uncertainties" led the two parties to agree to the program's cessation. Air Force sources declined to comment when asked about the causes of this action, but did say that no penalties were being placed on Martin Marietta and that the company was free to participate in future government programs.

The Air Force has agreed to deliver some of the existing ATARS equipment to the Navy, which also would have benefitted from the system. ATARS was an electro-optical and infrared sensor suite designed to improve Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps reconnaissance capabilities. It would have integrated low- and medium-altitude visible-light electro-optical sensors, an infrared line scanner, a digital tape recorder, a reconnaissance management system and a secure data link. F-16Rs, F/A-18Ds and medium-range unmanned aerial vehicles were scheduled to carry the system.

ATARS had successfully completed contractor flight tests this past January; government flight tests began the following month. These tests had been completed before the program was stopped. The Martin Marietta source said the work stoppage had nothing to do with the results of the flight tests.

Martin Marietta was working on a $186.5 million fixed price contract, according to an Air Force source at Wright-Patterson AFB. Approximately $126.6 million of that had already been spent at the time of the cancellation.

The cancellation of the program leaves open the question of how the ATARS capability will be replaced. A Wright-Patterson spokesman suggested the program office would consult with the Air Force Air Combat Command and Navy user communities to regauge their requirements before embarking on a replacement effort.

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Title Annotation:EC Monitor; Martin Marietta Technologies Inc.; Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System
Author:Hardy, Stephen M.
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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