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BAE Systems – Eurofighter Typhoon Just Keeps Delivering To UK Prosperity Agenda By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

Following on from the announcement late last week that the German Government had approved purchase by the German Air Force of 38 new Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 4 aircraft and that contracts for delivery of these have been signed with Airbus, it is pleasing that through the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) which acts as the single point of contact for customers and governments, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, the consortium which represents the core nations industrial partners comprising Airbus, BAE Systems, and Leonardo, has now awarded BAE Systems a £1.3bn contract that will enable the UK company to support production of the 38 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to be built for the German Air Force by the Consortium. 

UK work on the new Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft for the German Air Force will commence in 2021 at BAE Systems’ sites in Lancashire. This is a hugely important order for BAE Systems maintain as it will continuity of Typhoon aircraft production through to the mid-2020s and in the process, sustaining high-value engineering roles in the North of England. Maintaining critical military and defence engineering, design and technical skills has perhaps never been more important for the UK than now as we plan for a very different future. The jobs involved are also to be seen as a key element of securing the UK’s sovereign skills and capabilities and that are also, central to realising the Government’s future combat air ambitions.

More than 5,000 BAE Systems employees directly support the Typhoon programme in the UK, supporting a further 10,000 jobs in the UK economy as a whole. The list of UK supply chain companies that will ultimately benefit from the German Eurofighter Typhoon order is large with names such as Rolls-Royce, a member of the Eurojet consortium producing the EJ200 that powers Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, standing out.  

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced multi-role combat aircraft in operation, supporting European security and defence objectives. The programme is Europe’s largest defence collaboration generating as it does, economic prosperity for all four consortium nations (Germany, UK, Italy and Spain) and maintaining combat air sector capacity and the necessary industrial development and manufacturing capability required to support supply chains and nations involved together with export customers. 

As one of the larger members of the Eurofighter consortium, BAE Systems will manufacture and deliver over one third of the components required for each of the new Typhoons ordered by the German Air Force – this will include the aircraft’s front fuselage and tail. This being an order from the German Government, final assembly of the aircraft will be undertaken by Airbus at its large Manching facilities in Germany.

The new aircraft will join the existing German Air Force Typhoon fleet from the mid-2020s and will be equipped with the latest technology, including an advanced electronically-scanning radar. Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive BAE Systems,said in the announcement this morning that:

“Germany’s decision to purchase additional Typhoons reinforces the aircraft’s position as one of the world’s most successful combat military aircraft. The Typhoon programme makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, generating billions of pounds through exports and supporting more than 15,000 jobs across the UK including thousands of highly skilled roles in the North of England.”

The combat air sector delivers £6 billion of revenue to the UK every year and is responsible for 87% of the nation’s defence exports, a significant proportion of which comes from Typhoon. Few areas of Government spending deliver such impactful economic returns and it is important to note that so far, export sales of Typhoon have already returned more than double the UK Government’s £12 billion investment in the programme to the UK economy.

The Typhoon programme will, as it has done over many years, continue to help drive innovation as the Company develops the technology required to deliver the next generation of combat air capabilities. For example, BAE Systems engineers are now producing 3D printed components for Typhoon, including the Environmental Cooling System which will be used to cool the next generation radar.

Typhoon has still got a very long way to go and as a leading member of the Consortium it is important that the UK continues to take a long-term view and ensure that we continue to invest in the capability. In the 2018 Combat Air Strategy the Government made its forward intentions clear in what was rightly seen by many as a bold but very necessary vision for future UK combat air capability and that would of necessity also be the embodiment of an ambitious goal to create Tempest, a UK-led international future combat air system development programme that has at its heart the intention to pioneer new technology, capable of exploiting and staying ahead of evolving threats, enabled by decades of expertise in a world leading industry.

Team Tempest continues apace but it is, in my view, also extremely important that we do not allow the huge strategic importance of the Eurofighter Typhoon programme in respect of the ongoing prosperity agenda to diminish in any way. We must ensure that we continue to invest in the Eurofighter Typhoon programme ensuring that the capability not only continues as the enabler of the bolder vison laid down within the Combat Air Strategy but also to ensure continuing exportability and in ensuring that we maintain the strong sovereign capability that is now more important than ever.

As it is and notwithstanding recent announcements in respect of radar upgrade, Eurofighter Typhoon also underpins the UK’s strategically important international relationships and is in operational service with seven nations – Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Austria, Oman and Saudi Arabia – with production orders underway for Kuwait and Qatar.

BAE Systems Trading Update (11th November 2020)

While it is somewhat unusual that I comment on trading updates from corporates because this is somewhat timely in regard of the previous remarks in relation to Eurofighter Typhoon I have, for the benefit of those who may not have seen it, copied the main elements of this below. The bottom line is one of continuing strength:

In respect of the trading announcement Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems Chief Executive, said:

“We have continued to deliver a resilient performance in line with our expectations for a strong second half, thanks to the outstanding efforts of our employees in these challenging times. From a position of strength, the actions we took in quarter two to enhance our resilience are working well as reflected in our guidance, ensuring we continue to deliver on our customer priorities, whilst keeping our employees safe. Demand for our capabilities remains high and we recognise our role not only in supporting national security, but also in contributing to the economies of the countries in which we operate.


The Group’s full year guidance for 2020 sales and cashflow remains unchanged from the 2020 interim results. Underlying earnings per share are now expected to be slightly higher than previously guided with good operational performance and an expected lower tax rate offsetting the negative foreign exchange impact.


Demand for our capabilities remains high with order intake expectations for the Group ahead of our original pre COVID planning for the year.

The recent German Parliament announcement confirming the approval of the purchase of an additional 38 Typhoon aircraft is significant for the consortium, and we are working with Eurofighter GmbH and our industrial partners to conclude the relevant contracts in the near future.

Our large order backlog and incumbent programme positions are expected to lead to strong and profitable top line growth with increasing cash conversion in the coming years.

Key market update

In the US, the Group’s US-based portfolio remains well aligned to customer priorities and growth areas, which we expect to continue under the next administration. The backlog for the US based business has continued to grow organically and through the two acquisitions made earlier this year. This backlog provides good visibility of growth in the US business. The two-year budget deal enacted in 2019 established a defense spending level of c.$740bn for fiscal year 2021. As lawmakers continue to work on authorization and appropriations bills, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to provide funding through 11 December, with the CARES Act also extended through the same period.

In the UK, the government has recently re-stated its commitment to meeting the NATO target of spending of at least 2.0% of Gross Domestic Product on defence. The Government’s Integrated Foreign Policy, Defence and Security Review is ongoing and the Ministry of Defence has stated it is progressing its contribution to this Review by planning how best to meet tomorrow’s threats. We see a stable outlook for our UK operations, with defence revenues centred around long-term, contracted and critical defence programmes in the Air and Maritime domains. The Group has limited UK-EU trading and the majority of the UK workforce are UK nationals. Accordingly, any resulting near-term Brexit impacts across the business are likely to be limited.

Our business in Australia, where we are the leading defence contractor, is set to grow significantly in the coming years as the Hunter Class Frigate programme matures. The government announcement in July to increase their 10-year investment in new and upgraded defence capabilities from $195bn AUD to $270bn AUD should provide further opportunities to enhance and extend our growth profile.

In Europe, a number of nations are increasing their defence budgets to address the threat environment and move towards their 2% of GDP NATO commitments. We remain well placed through our positions on the Eurofighter Typhoon, our shareholding in MBDA and our BAE Systems Hagglunds Swedish based land vehicles business.

In Saudi Arabia, we are working closely with industry partners and the UK Government to continue to fulfil the contractual support arrangements in the Kingdom on the key European collaboration programmes.

Operational Update

We are being agile as we address the challenges arising from the global pandemic with employee safety and wellbeing at the forefront.  Collaboration and communication across our many stakeholders, particularly in our supply chain and with our Trade Unions, gives us high confidence in our ability to deliver across our defence programmes. As outlined in July, in our defence businesses most operations are operating with well over 90% of employees working. This includes a high proportion still working from home and critical on-site workers operating under the adjusted protective safety measures. We continue to monitor local operational situations with particular focus on our supply chains as we manage fragility in certain areas.

We have seen some pleasing progress since the half year as we continue to deliver improved operational performance against our strong order backlog. Our focus on F-35 ramp up in both the Air and Electronic Systems divisions has continued in the second half.

The integration of the former Airborne Tactical Radios and Military Global Positioning System businesses into the Electronic Systems sector is progressing well, benefitting from positive levels of engagement by the teams. The businesses are performing as expected and well positioned for growth.

The first of the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicles have been delivered to the US Army customer and dozens of hulls are in progress on the production line as the programme continues to build momentum. The Amphibious Combat Vehicle programme successfully completed Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in September, a key milestone in moving from LRIP levels to the full rate production levels.

The Qatar Typhoon and Hawk build programmes are progressing well and our relationships are strengthening as we implement our support and training commitments with the Qatari Armed Forces.

On the Tempest programme, positive progress continues with the inputs to the outline business case submitted on time and good progress has been made towards a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding with our Italian and Swedish international partners.

In Maritime, the fifth and final OPV, HMS Spey, was accepted by the Ministry of Defence in October, and the acquisition of Techmodal is an exciting step for the sector as we look to support the Royal Navy’s ambition to be a ‘digital navy’ by 2025.

At the start of November, we completed the disposal of the ex-Silversky business. This has no material impact on the guidance.

CHW (London – 12th November 2020)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS 

Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,

M: +44 7710 779785

Skype: chwheeldon


kc4business at DSEi Exhibition 2019

21 Aug 19. kc4business Ltd is participating in this year’s DSEi held at Excel, London, UK from September10 – 13. kc4business Ltd is a business development, sales support consultancy offering an extension of businesses without the cost and need to commit to a full time member of staff.  Kc4business offers a diverse range of outsourcing services, being adaptable to a client’s needs in terms of focus and time commitment offering benefits, including attendance at defence and rail “meet the buyer” events, often on a cost share basis. Client tasks include: relationship building within the supply chain and DVD partnership stand management. within the aerospace, defence and rail industries in particular.

By way of examples, a client may wish to outsource the development of new or existing customers; the client may need help in relationship building within a supply chain; they may require support at trade shows – administering, staffing the stand installation, or finding and developing new contacts and following up potential new customers.

Supporting companies include:

*Hub Electronics, 40 years as a worldwide distributor and in depth stockist of electro-mechanical products, connectors, cables, backshells, project management services. Products are available in all standard materials and plating, finishes and are RoHS, REACH and VG approved.

*Parmley Technologies, over 20 years’ experience in designing and manufacturing electronic control panels, printed circuit boards and joy stick consoles for military vehicles.

*NewMet – a wide range of polymeric solid and foam based products for use in vehicle interior applications including thermal insulation, seals, gaskets, sound barriers, shielding products, seat cushions and adhesive and masking solutions.

* SAE – From the first spark plug in 1917, SAE has played a critical role in the progress of the global aerospace industry. Known for publishing an extensive range of mobility engineering standards for the Aerospace and Automotive Sectors.

See us at DSEi on Parmley Technologies S3-119 and sponsoring the refreshments on the NDI Pavilion S10-100.

Please come and chat, or pick the phone up after the show.



Mobile: +44 (0) 7484 124614

Issued on Behalf of Kc4 By BATTLESPACE Publications

Spectra – Developing Advanced Satcom Technology For Front Line Operations By Julian Nettlefold

It was timely that BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold made our annual visit to Spectra for an update on their latest technology in April. The Editor was greeted with good news on arrival, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd has been named as one of the awardees of the 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category, a much-deserved award.






CEO Simon Davies commented, “Working on the design, and building a business, supplying a product that has the ability to revolutionise communications in theatres of operation, not only for soldiers but emergency services and disaster areas is very satisfying.  As a former soldier in the Royal Corp of Signals, knowing that the equipment we provide enables soldiers and first responders around the world to conduct operations with reliable and robust communications so that when they need to call for assistance, that they communicate, first time every time is  very motivating for me and my team.”

Development Of Slingshot







SlingShot is an innovative system that uniquely converts UHF and VHF radios to L-Band Satellite frequency, extending the range to BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight). Conceived and designed in response UK MoD requirements, SlingShot offers a number of benefits for those engaged in high tempo operations, and that require reliable and robust COTM (communications on the move). SlingShot is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over thousands of miles between forward units and HQ locations.  In addition to C2 voice, the system enables data capability supporting mission critical applications such as; Chat, File Transfer, artillery fire missions, Situational Awareness and the Common Operational Picture,. With increased benefit to traditional TacSat, increased channel availability and almost no increase in the training burden, SlingShot is redefining tactical communications.

SlingShot works with existing tactical military radios and requires minimal additional training to provide BLOS communications without the need for supplementary infrastructure or additional cumbersome equipment. SlingShot supports the majority of in-service tactical radios and has already been operationally proven. Combined with Inmarsat’s L-TAC leased service, it is fully flexible and designed to meet security and reliability requirements cost-effectively. Users can lease the service for periods as short as one a week in either narrow spot beams or beams customized to meet their area of operations.

“How did the concept of SlingShot evolve?” The Editor asked Shaun Barry, Spectra Business Development for AsiaPacific and UK.

“Our CEO Simon Davies was at a regular Inmarsat briefing session in November 2012 covering existing contracts and technologies when it was disclosed that Inmarsat’s I-4 satellite could be configured to provide a 25kHz channel and was able to switch the RF signal at the Satellite by means of a single hop keeping latency to a minimum. In response to this, Simon stated that, in his view, this would meet a significant military capability gap. Spectra then designed and provided a concept demonstrator within a few weeks to prove the system worked and production models were in –service within 9 months. Spectra now has strategic relationships with both Inmarsat, whose L-TAC™ service uses SlingShot and Airbus, which brands SlingShot as TREx. The majority of the system is manufactured and assembled in the UK at either Spectra’s site or utilising local engineering companies ensuring quality and reliability of the product is constantly monitored and remains the highest priority. The Queens’ Award recognises the unique satcom networking technology developed by Spectra’s team of engineers.”

“Since its launch, how many systems have been supplied and to how many customers?”

“SlingShot is now in operation across the World including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Belgium and South Africa, It is used predominantly by Special Forces but also by Conventiontial Forces and other NATO countries. SlingShot, has Manpack, Vehicle, Maritime and Aviation systems, meaning that command and control of all personnel, no matter where they are deployed,  becomes notably easier. To date the total number of systems shipped is in excess of the 3000 mark, further endorsing Spectra’s dominant position in the Tactical SATCOM market place. We are also actively pursuing opportunities in other regions where the service is yet to be utilised.







“As well as military applications, does SlingShot have other non-military applications?”

“Yes, very much so, it has a number of key uses in first responder and disaster relief operations. As the frequency of major disasters, health crises and conflicts globally grow apace, so does the demand for humanitarian assistance.”

“With loss of essential services such as electricity, shortage of food and water supplies, and human lives at risk, first responders, aid agencies and other non-governmental organisations face a lack of basic security and communications, this hinders their success and can ultimately result in further risk to life. To overcome this problem, Spectra, in addition to SlingShot, has developed a number of robust and reliable communications solutions, to aid coordination and protect all field workers in unstable environments. Team Rubicon, the Charity involved in disaster relief have trialled SlingShot and have equipment on high readiness for them to deploy when the need arises.”

“In 2018, you opened an office in the US, has this development born fruit?”

“Definitely, in 2018 Spectra Group (US) Inc., our new U.S. Company, was selected by the US DoD to take part in the 2019 Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE 2019) at Fort Benning. US forces put SlingShot and L-TAC through it paces in many different scenarios, the final report has not yet been released but the feedback has been extremely positive. SlingShot systems were used within the Brigade HQ, on a HMMV for COTM, Ops Room, and as a Manpack”

AEWE is the US Army’s premier venue for small unit modernization, providing capability developers, the Science and Technology (S&T) community, and industry with a repeatable, credible, rigorous, and validated operational experiment, supporting both concept and material development. The AEWE is an annual campaign of experimentation to place cutting edge prototype technologies into the hands of Soldiers to solve small unit tactical problems. The Manoeuvre Battle Lab, as part of the Army Futures Command (AFC), executes AEWE to accelerate near and midterm Army modernization and provide bottom up input to capability development, by providing early and iterative feedback on prototypes in a tactical setting. AEWE is the ‘first step’ of a larger Army and Joint Experimentation enterprise.

Being demonstrated at AEWE, Spectra’s SlingShot added voice and data BLOS COTM to the service participant’s in-service tactical VHF and UHF radios, allowing interoperability between coalition partner radios. Shaun further stated that SlingShot is a Force Enabler, providing man-portable, vehicle, maritime and aviation-borne systems, useable on the move, delivering flexible and low-cost channel leasing and with minimal increase in training-burden, SlingShot really does redefine tactical communication capabilities.

Simon Davies, President of Spectra Group said, “It’s an important and prestigious step for Spectra Group to be selected to take part in the US AEWE 2019. Our SlingShot system is already in service with the world’s premier forces and it has been battle-proven on multiple occasions. AEWE provided an excellent opportunity to show case SlingShot’s unique, widespread, operational capability which is attracting increasing attention from the other potential US users.

Setting up the US office enables us to provide closer support to our in-country partners and also to the end – users.


© Bob Morrison +44 7714 595 609






Inmarsat L-TAC: Tactical Beyond Line of Sight communications

 “What are the key goals of L-TAC and SlingShot?”

“Our aim is to provide the Operationally Proven Go-To Tactical Satellite (TacSat) system for front line troops. Reliable C3 of units that are often widely dispersed and in austere environments is essential to mission success. Deploying and protecting terrestrial repeater stations in order to extend radio range is an expensive and sometimes impractical option, so military forces have tended to rely on Ultra High Frequency (UHF) TacSat communications. A limited supply of UHF TacSat channels, and its cost, means there was a need for a new solution. Without SlingShot, Force Projection troops have limited C3 capability, troops are able to communicate intra Patrol, and back to Company HQs but find it difficult to communicate effectively further back. Equally remote units such as Recce troops find it difficult to remain in communications other than relying on more strategic systems such as HF. This also limits the ability of the troops on the ground to communicate with other platform types such as helicopters, fast jets and ships to call in air cover and artillery support. SlingShot provides for an all informed, platform agnostic approach, where helicopters carrying the first wave of troops can communicate with HQ and air support as they insert. Giving real time C3 across the battlespace.

“The UK in particular is looking at a major upgrade to its existing satcom and comms network through Morpheus and FBLOS. How do you see Spectra contributing to this process?”

“The detailed requirements of future programmes for both Morpheous and FBLOS are not fully defined but it is clear that SlingShot and L-TAC should meet requirements in both these two programmes. It provides flexible Tactical BLOS communications and is able to provide this BLOS in a Comms on the Move high tempo scenario.”

“In addition, the L-TAC/SlingShot combination enables users to transition from larger UHF/VHF antennas to smaller, discreet omni-directional ones, which can be placed on a vehicle, a helicopter or the backpacks of soldiers on the move. This is a transformative capability for agencies requiring fast-reaction deployment worldwide with optimal portability and security. Users obtain a superior level of secured satellite throughput with small, lightweight antennas supporting highly mobile asymmetric missions, such as patrols from Forward Operating Bases and Airborne Intelligence, and Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR). L-TAC complements existing capacity with a single-hop, low-latency voice and data service, providing additional capacity when UHF channels are unavailable. The powerful Inmarsat-4 constellation of satellites provides this capability across the globe.”

There is little doubt that Spectra’s Queens Award for Innovation is a richly deserved accolade for a UK company operating at the forefront of international satcom technology.