At the end of November 2007, engine maker Rolls-Royce employed around 39,500 people in 50 countries: around 23,300 are employed in the UK, 8,300 in North America, 2,300 in Germany, 3,400 in the Nordic countries, 680 in Asia with an additional 2,000 working in joint ventures, and about 1,500 in the rest of the world. One of their managerial foci is the metric of sales per employee, and this has underpinned their approach in a number of areas, including investments in process controls and IT systems.
The firm is now negotiating with its employees and their unions with the aim of reducing 2,300 staff and management positions (about 5.8% of their workforce), focusing on overhead and support functions. The Independent is reporting that most of the job losses are expected to be in Britain, where executives hope to use voluntary buyouts. The firm says that it does not intend to lay off manufacturing employees, though a separate union/political battle is being fought over the proposed closure of the Merseyside, UK plant and relocation of its production to Mount Vernon, OH, USA. Rolls-Royce’s release said that the firm “will continue to recruit graduates, apprentices and those required directly to deliver growth.”
While the firm cites “external headwinds” like increasing raw material costs and the weak US dollar, the reductions are expected to have no net impact on the Group’s 2007 or 2008 performance, once all costs are factored in. The most likely explanation, therefore, appears to be the straightforward one of a corporation creating a leaner support structure and managing to its key metrics like productivity and sales per employee. Rolls Royce release | Reuters report | UPI report.
FLIR Systems, Inc. recently announced a $13 million order from the Colombian Ministry of Defense for its Star SAFIRE HD stabilized, multi-sensor surveillance turrets, to be used on board Colombian Air Force helicopters. That country already uses FLIR Systems products on its Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft, but FLIR Systems’ release indicates that this contract was competitively awarded against competitors. Work will be performed at FLIR’s facility in Portland, Oregon, and deliveries are expected to take place during the second half of 2008. Customer support, training, and integration services will be performed from FLIR’s licensed maintenance facility located in Bogota, Colombia.
The fully-digital Star SAFIRE HD packs 120x zoom daylight, low-light, and forward looking infrared (FLIR, 640 x 512 array) cameras, laser targeting and designation options, and IMU relative positioning to transmit coordinates, in a compact 15″ turret system that weighs about 120 pounds. Star SAFIREs are also 6-axis stabilized, which means they will remain locked on their viewing point no matter what the helicopter does. Helicopters equipped with these kinds of systems can operate in day, night, or twilight reconnaissance mode against guerrillas, drug runners, and narco-terrorists, providing overwatch along their flight paths and scanning landing zones et. al. to reduce the odds of fatal surprises. If targets are confirmed, or key features need to be pointed out, laser designation can be used to illuminate targets or objects of interest for nearby helicopters and supporting aircraft.
UH-60L (lick to view larger)
Colombia recently purchased 15 second-hand UH-60L Black Hawk/ Arpia helicopters from the USA, which would bring the core of its Fuerza Aerea Colombiana and Brigada XXV de Aviacion del Ejército (BRIAV) fleets to an estimated 29-45 UH-60 Arpias, about 45-50 UH-1 Huey/ Huey-IIs, and about 16 Russian Mi-17s.
Add one more European nation to the bandwagon of emergency mine-resistant vehicle purchases. On Dec 7/07, Sofia News Agency reported that Bulgaria has just signed a deal with Textron Land Systems for armored vehicles. The memorandum is to be in force until 2011, and each year a concrete agreement will be signed for a given number of armored vehicles. The first 7 vehicles, worth 14 million leva ($10.5 million), are meant for the Bulgarian contingent in Afghanistan and are to be delivered by the end of the 2007.
The vehicles are almost certainly the firm’s mine-resistant M1117 Guardian ASVs, an armored car design that combines good mobility and protection with strong anti-personnel firepower from the combined .50 caliber machine gun and 40mm grenade machine gun in its turret. The ASV is popular with US military police, but was removed from the MRAP competition by the US Marines after testing.
Jan 14/08:Textron confirms a $10.2 million contract for 7 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense, with anticipated delivery of the vehicles in the first quarter of 2008.