By 2005, QinetiQ (pron. “kinetic”) was a vital UK defense research firm whose owners included the British government and The Carlyle Group. This was a transformation from its previous role as part of Britain’s DERA government research agency, but relations remain close and the firm is involved with a wide variety of UK defense projects. DID has covered a number of projects in which QinetiQ has been involved.
As a second step in line with the UK’s 1998 Strategic Review that pressed for the movement of defense research to the private sector, QinetiQ announced on January 12, 2006 that it was headed for an IPO. Each of the current owners would sell a part of their holding in connection with the Global Offer, which was originally expected to raise gross primary proceeds of about GBP 150 million for the MoD, plus significant secondary proceeds from the sales by the MOD and the Carlyle shareholders.
The IPO ended up raising over GBP 600 million from a partial sale of shares, but now a recent NAO report concerning has ignited sharp political controversy…
In January 2007, “Swiss Converting 160 More Piranha Panzerjaegers” covered the conversion of 160 Piranha I 6×6 vehicles from tank hunters with TOW missiles, to light battalion command vehicles ready for the new Swiss battlefield C3I system FIS HE (Fuhrungsinformationssystem der Stufe Heer, now in its 2nd development stage). Those vehicles do not involve major structural modifications, unlike the Brigade level Piranha IIIC C2 vehicle shown above.
Now General Dynamics subsidiary MOWAG GmbH in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland has announced an order from Swiss Army for 26 PIRANHA IIIC 8×8 APCs, to be be manufactured during 2010-2011.
Out of the ordered vehicles, 6 will be delivered as armored brigade command vehicles, 8 as armored communication vehicles, and 12 as so-called “armored Radio Access Point vehicles with increased functionality.” Close to 900 Piranha (LAV) family vehicles currently serve in various configurations within the Swiss Army. MOWAG release.
In the wake of BAE Systems’ SEP vehicle’s elimination from the Future Rapid Effects System-Utility next-generation armored personnel carrier finals (Nexter’s VBCI, GD MOWAG’s Piranha V, ARTEC’s Boxer) and their loss of the Systems of Systems Integrator role to a Boeing-Thales partnership, Defense News recently quoted BAE Systems Land Systems Managing Director Andrew Davies as saying that the firm “must win the last piece of the FRES utility program – the integration-and-build contract – or consider shutting the Newcastle plant.” That may well be a calculated overstatement, but the firm who had built over 95% of the UK’s armored vehicle fleet has definitely fallen short of its own and others’ expectations thus far.
While the BAE Hagglunds CV90 tracked vehicle is reportedly on offer for the FRES Reconnaissance and specialty slot, the integration and build portion of the GBP 15-17 billion FRES program would appear to be BAE’s main focus at the moment. The firm has just unveiled its team, which consists of:
Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems in Sykesville, MD received a $9.3 million order against a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N68335-02-D-0023) for 10 Valve Actuation and Control (VAC) system production units: 4 systems for CVN 77 George H.W. Bush under construction, 5 systems for CVN 70 USS Carl Vinson which is undergoing a major overhaul, and 1 shore-based system for training. The VAC system is intended to replace the existing control and actuation system of the Mark 7 Aircraft Arresting Gear that stops high-speed aircraft following the controlled crash of a carrier landing. As Navy Matters puts it:
“The current USN standard is the Mark 7 Mod 3, however starting with the USS Ronald Reagan [DID: CVN 76] the USN is moving to a new three-wire Mark 7 Mod 4 arresting gear design (actually four arresting gear engines but with two of them interchangeable as the barricade engine). The new system uses polycore cables designed to withstand more traps than steel cables and extra-large pulleys to reduce maintenance and man-hours, and provides the capability to land potentially larger and heavier aircraft. It is hoped that the new design will reduce maintenance requirements by half by increasing the time interval between inspections and overhauls, in addition, the costs associated with replacing these high-wear components will be reduced. Another benefit of this system will be that the arresting gear engines will be more accessible to flight line crews.”
Work will be performed in Sykesville, MD and is expected to be complete in May 2009. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ issued the contract.