QinetiQ Wins Contract to Support Atomic Energy Detection System

Last week QinetiQ North America won a six-year contract potentially worth $36.5 million to provide expert scientific and analytical support to the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center.

QinetiQ will aid AFTAC’s Atmosphere and Space Directorate support operation and maintenance of the Atomic Energy Detection System [AEDS].

If there were to be a nuclear explosion on Earth AEDS would know about it almost immediately. It would not matter where it was, if it were day or night or summer or winter. The AEDS network was first established in 1948 by the Office of Atomic Energy-1 [AFOAT-1] and named the Atomic Energy Detection System [AEDS].

AEDS has evolved a great deal over the past sixty-plus years since it was first established. It has a global web of sensors which can see, feel, hear, and smell nuclear explosions which occur on land, under land, in the sea, in the atmosphere and even in space. In 1980 it became a responsibility of the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center, called AFTAC, at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

The detection system is used by the US Air Force to monitor three nuclear treaties namely the 963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, the 1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the 1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty. David O’Brien, AFTAC’s chief scientist said that their responsibility was to ensure that foreign nations are adhering to the provisions of those treaties .

The system uses more than 20 satellites along with multiple sensors. The network’s five hydro-acoustic stations detect undersea nuclear explosions. The U.S. Atomic Energy Nuclear Detection System is the only network that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

QinetiQ will work with scientists and engineers to support mission readiness with:

  • Advanced concepts to improve current detection and analysis methods, techniques, tools and systems

  • Research and development of systems and detection technologies to meet future operational mission requirements for monitoring treaties and other directed technology applications

QinetiQ will initially provide scientific, engineering and analytical services and support the migration of legacy operational software into a services-oriented architecture with improved mission performance.

Future efforts will support the development of advanced sensor exploitation and evaluation methodologies.

“QinetiQ North America is very excited about the new partnership with AFTAC, a critical component in America’s national security umbrella,” said Joe Broadwater, executive vice president, aerospace operations for QinetiQ North America. “This is an excellent opportunity to bring the high value engineering and scientific expertise we provide to NASA and other federal agencies to the professionals supporting AFTAC’s mission. We look forward to a long and valued collaborative environment.”

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