Pan-European contractor Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS) has completed delivery of Availability Improvement Programme (AVIMP) upgrade kits for use in UK Royal Navy (RN) Type 996 surveillance and target indication radar.

Used both to provide target data for the service's Seawolf and Sea Dart surface-to-air missile systems and command system surveillance data for RN Invincible class aircraft carriers, Type 42 air defence destroyers, Duke class frigates and Albion class amphibious transport docks, Type 996 is an E/F-band (2 to 4 GHz) 3-D equipment that was introduced into service during 1991 and is expected to remain operational until circa 2032.

Work on the AVIMP programme began during April 1999 when the then BAE Systems Newport, Isle of Wight facility (now a part of AMS) was awarded a then £27 million contract aimed at the design and development of a Type 996 upgrade package that would replace unreliable components within the system and make the radar maintainable by ship's staff.

In its final form, the AVIMP package includes quick-release components for use in the above decks element of the radar and an enhanced built-in test routine for the below decks part of the system. Sources suggest that the first AVIMP configured Type 996 radars were commissioned during February 2002 aboard the destroyer HMS Nottingham and at the RN's Naval Training Establishment HMS Collingwood, respectively. Informed sources suggest that over time, the RN has procured at least 37 Type 996 radars.