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Cohort Looks to Systems Integration to Grow its Business By Julian Nettlefold

 

15 Aug 19.  Cohort is a company has a perfect profile for BATTLESPACE, ‘a focused mid-cap company specialising in technology including C4I and Cyber.’ To that end the Editor purchased some shares in Cohort in 2015 and 2019.

‘We create solutions to keep people safe. Acting with agility to find a better way, make smart decisions and meet customers’ needs. Where independent subsidiaries are free to grow and deepen relationships with the support of a steady hand. Bringing the expertise of the Group to the ingenuity of our businesses. To deliver purposeful innovation that protects us all.’

The independent technology group. Cohort plc.

The Editor has also known the Cohort management for many years when they worked at Alvis Plc. He remembers well the Press Conference when in 2004 GD announced the intended purchase of what was then AlvisVickers. CEO Nick Prest asked, “Have I done the right thing?” To which the Editor replied in the affirmative.

It’s worth noting here that before the takeover of Alvis by United Scientific Holdings (USH) in 1981, that Alvis was a prolific advertiser with its strap line Ad, ‘A Day In The Life Of a Scorpion.’ The USH management ran their business on a much lower key approach, so all advertising was stopped, a move, which in my view, lowered the perception of the Alvis product line in world markets. This dislike of advertising and PR semms to have migrated to the Cohort model.

Rumour has it that Nick Prest and Andy Thomis approached the then DMA and asked about purchasing a clutch of technology companies which could operate in their own right but be part of the Cohort umbrella.

Thus, Stanley Carter’s SCS (later merged with SEA), SEA, MASS, were purchased to form Cohort Plc which was then listed on the AIM. This was flowed by MCL, EID and Chess Dynamics.

From the outset Cohort has relied on its management divisions to have a free hand in management. However, in the 2000s the City was finding Cohort hard to understand given that other conglomerates were also failing in their ability to put their message across.

At the same time, Nick Prest branched out into another venture, the purchase of Shephard Press. We understand that he was on the losing team bidding for DSEI in 2008, so Shephard was the next choice after Alexander Shephard failed to sell the company to another publisher.

Nick’s main interest in Shephard was believed to be the Exhibition side as he had seen the amount of money he had to write cheques for when paying for Alvis representation at Exhibitions. However, the venture was short lived and the Exhibition side was closed in 2016, leaving just the publishing entity.

The Shephard purchase appeared to affect the relationship which BATTLESPACE had built up with Cohort companies.

However the reticence of the Cohort management to spend on Advertising and PR resulted in the continued perception of misunderstanding of the company in the City and defence industry.

Andy Thomis, although highly able, gives the perception of an amiable school master who is relieved that his class has squeaked through with a reasonable set of results, while Nick Prest gives the impression of one of aloofness with his interest seen as more intellectual than growing a company. More money was spent on City PR to prime the share price rather than product PR to broadcast new developments to the defence industry and MoDs. 

To that end, in 2016, Jonathan Clegg was employed to look at the whole profile of Cohort to the City and MoDs alike. It was expected that a rebranding exercise would take place bringing the Cohort name to all subsidiaries. But this hasn’t happened for reasons not clear, one reason being having to gain agreement from every Cohort company. 

However, the purchase of Chess Dynamics last year seems to have taken the lid off promoting Cohort. The recent appointment of a PR company to handle non-City PR appears to signal a change in policy to promoting the compnay; to that end Cohort ran a DSEI Open Day at a Crawley Hotel in July.

The briefs coincided with the results, delayed by the Chess acquisition, on July 23rd.

Cohort plc announced its unaudited results for the year ended 30 April 2019.  

 Highlights include: 2019 Unaudited

20182 Unaudited

• Revenue £121.2m £110.5m

• Adjusted operating profit1 £16.2m £15.2m 

• Adjusted earnings per share1 33.60p 29.08p 16

• Net (debt)/funds (£6.4m) £11.3m n/a

• Order intake £189.9m £76.6m 148

• Order book (closing) £190.9m £103.8m 84

• Proposed final dividend per share 6.25p 5.65p

• Total dividend per share  9.10p 8.20p 11

Statutory

• Statutory profit before tax £5.7m £10.2m (44)

• Basic earnings per share 13.37p 18.95p (29)

• Overall results in line with expectations:

o Initial contribution from Chess better than expected

o Growth at MASS, SEA and MCL

 o Weaker performance at EID

• Record order intake of £189.9m (2018: £76.6m), with better performance across the Group 

• All the large order opportunities signalled last year were won – both renewals and new orders 

• 81.84% of Chess acquired for an initial cash consideration of £20.1m in December 2018 

• Chess’s Counter Unmanned Air Vehicle (C-UAV) system was deployed at Gatwick Airport in December 2018 

• Dividend increased by 11% – dividend raised every year since IPO in 2006 

Looking forward:

• Strong order book and pipeline of prospects provide a good underpinning for revenue in the coming year.

• The 30 April order book of £190.9m underpins nearly £81m of revenue, representing 55% (2018: 46%) of consensus forecast revenue for the year.  This has risen to 60% as at the end of June. 

• Expect the Group to grow, including an improved performance from EID.  • Financial resources in place for investment and acquisitions.  Net debt expected to remain flat.

Commenting on the results, Nick Prest CBE, Chairman of Cohort plc said: “MASS, MCL and SEA all posted increases in profits and the result also benefitted from the acquisition of Chess in December 2018, partially offset by a weaker performance at EID.” Our record order intake of nearly £190m and an all time high closing order book of £191m gives us a strong base for the coming financial year. We also have a good pipeline of order prospects.” “Overall, we expect the Group to continue to make progress in the coming year and beyond, taking into consideration the budgetary risks of our main UK customer, the timing of exports and the strong opening order book”.

The Crawley Brief

 

 

 

 

 

What may also have prompted this brief, was the criticism in many quarters, including BATTLESPACE, that Cohort had not used the Gatwick UAV incursion and the subsequent use and purchase of its AUDS product to broadcast its capability in this new and exciting area of technology. The shares barely moved on that day.

The Crawley presentations were excellent and certainly pointed to the fact that Cohort is emerging from its reticence to broadcast its capabilities to the market. One key statement arising from the day was the announcement by Andy Thomis that Cory was now fusing its various companies to cover turnkey defence solutions under a Cohort umbrella, in short ‘A Combined Cohort Solution .’

The presentations were divided into Land, Sea, Air and Cyber activities from the various Cohort companies. The fact that the presentations were made under Land, Sea, Air and Cyber activities, may be a sign that the Company is about to centralise all its activities under the Cohort banner with a division of Land, Sea, Air and Cyber activities. This move would certainly make Cohort more understandable to the City and create a better corporate image.

Cohort in the Maritime Domain

Cohort supports the navies of 21 countries

• Delivering mission system components & systems for ships and submarines

• Sensors: Sonar (SEA), EO/Radar (Chess), EW Sensors: (MASS/MCL)

• Command & Control: (Chess / MASS/ SEA) Command & Control:

• Effectors: Torpedo Launchers (SEA), Decoy Effectors: Launchers (SEA), Gun Directors (Chess)

• Integrated Communications Systems: (EID/SEA)

• Training: (SEA) Training:

• Open systems

• Small & Large ships

SEA KraitArray™

KraitArray™ is a product family of low profile miniaturised acoustic arrays suitable for low speed towed or static applications. Systems Engineering & Assessment (SEA) have made use of their knowledge and experience of larger diameter arrays to develop this highly adaptable product that provides impressive performance with reduced power consumption, weight, drag and cost when compared with traditional line and towed arrays.

• Single 50m module

• Up to 32 acoustic hydrophones

• Up to 5 non-acoustic sensors

• Low power

• Analogue in the array but digital interface

• Designed for small unmanned surface vessels

• First deployed in 2016 Version 2

• Multiple modules – 150m max today

• Up to 192 acoustic sensors

• Up to 24 non-acoustic sensors

• Lower noise

• Low power

• Lower frequency operation and higher sensitivity

• Designed for a wide range of applications • First deployed 2018

Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle Naval Systems

Chess Dynamics manufactures a range of naval EO/IR under the Sea Eagle brand.

 • Proven Surveillance and Fire Control Systems

• Deployed across Royal Navy & 7 international navies

• Detect – track – identify targets

• Provide target coordinates to gun

• Scalable solutions (OPV to AC)

Sea Eagle Family Sea Eagle FCEO Electro Optical Fire Control System

• Designed to interface with any naval gun

• Over 60 systems in service Sea Eagle FCRO Radar & Electro Optical Fire Control System

• All weather surface and air target engagement

• Delivering first production systems to launch customer in Q3

Sea Eagle EOSS Electro Optical Surveillance System

Sea Eagle EOSS is an electro optical surveillance system optimised for automated maritime surveillance on all classes of vessel. The system provides 24 hour passive surveillance and target identification through the use of thermal imager and daylight TV camera sensors (the system can optionally be fitted with a low repetition rate laser rangefinder). Enhanced capabilities delivered through 2019 giving a product refresh. Sea Eagle EOSS is in service with the UK Border Agency & French Navy

Sea Eagle FCEO Electro Optical Fire Control System

• 24-hour surveillance, tracking and fire control

• Gunfire control – ASuW, AAW, NGS

• New product in pipeline with enhancements including: HD sensors, Digital architecture and Automated target classification

Sea Eagle FCRO Radar & Electro Optical Tracking & Fire Control System

• Launched at DSEi 2017 as market disruptor

• EO + Radar allows 24-hour all weather target detection, ID and engagement  with an option for HD sensors. Chess is delivering Sea Eagle FCRO to a launch customer. Very strong market interest, further orders expected.

Maritime Counter UAS (MCUAS) 20

 • Based on our proven land CUAS systems

 • Detect, track, identify and defeat drones at sea or in harbour

• Options

• Fully integrated into CMS

 • Deployable mission module

At DSEI 2019 – Sea Eagle Family Sea Eagle FCEO Electro Optical Fire Control System Sea Eagle FCRO Radar & Electro Optical Fire Control System

EID

Established in 1983, EID is a Portuguese high tech industry with deep know-how and vast experience in the fields of electronics, communications and command & control.

The company is focused in the design, manufacture and supply of advanced, high performance equipment and systems, mainly for the worldwide defense community. We are active in multiple countries worldwide, with customers in Europe, Africa, South America, Middle East and in the Asia Pacific region.

Products exhibited, working and demonstrated at DSEI: – ICCS 6 Naval Integrated Communications Control System – ICC-251 Compact Vehicular Intercom System – ICC-401 IP Vehicular Intercom System, NGVA compliant – Stanag 4754 – TWH-110 soldier radio system

Naval Integrated Communications Control System (ICCS) from EID is one of the world’s more widely used naval communications system. – ICCS 6 is a full IP version; – It is user friendly concerning operation – It is extremely competitively priced.

EID can customize the ships communications control systems to the specific requirements of navies around the globe – ICCS6 can be integrated with all brands of radio, satcom, modem and cypher equipment, etc., either legacy and new generation IP equipment – Furthermore ICCS can be customized for some land applications, such as Simulators (Operation and Hardware) for Navy Schools, BRASS (Broadcast and Ship-Shore communications), Ground based ATC, GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety at Sea), …

River Class batch 2, to be present at DSEI is equipped with EID’s ICCS – Over 140 systems supplied for warships pertaining to 12 navies: – More recent deliveries include Australia (Hobart Class destroyers), UK (River Class OPV), Netherlands and Belgium (M Class frigates), Portugal (Viana do Castelo Class and Tejo Class OPVs), 140+ systems have been supplied to 12 navies across the world.

Four decades of close cooperation with Army land forces around the world

• from the ICC-101 pure analogue basic intercom system to the new ICC-401 full IP intercom system

• from HF naval and army radio multiband equipment, to the current TWH-100 series personal radio

Introducing the ICC-401 at DSEI 2019

The new high range vehicular intercom system, NGVA compliant (STANAG 4754).

  • Features ring topology and NGVA compliance – providing a higher performance and survivability – Radio agnostic – supports both legacy radios and new generation high capacity Software Defined Radios.
  • Focused on the user comfort and security: Dynamic Noise Reduction(DNR), Active Noise Reduction (ANR), ergonomic, etc. TWH-100 series Personal Radio TWH-110 – a new member of TWH-100 series soldier radio – higher range, new waveforms and better performance for all tactical scenarios.
  • Simultaneous voice, data and positioning report – 400MHz frequency band – Up to 4km line of sight range – Self managed network, repetition, 5 time slots, 2 PTTs – Seamless integration with intercom systems and higher echelon radios.
  • ICC-251 compact vehicular intercom system – The most efficient mid-range intercom in the market today – Crew access to internal and external voice and data communications – Up to 7 crew members, 2 data terminals and 3 radio s – Analog and serial data interfaces – Dynamic noise reduction – Compatible with a wide range of radio equipment (new or legacy)

4000+ intercom systems  have been sold to 12 countries worldwide.

SEA

SEA ASW Training Complete ASW Training Package

• Concepts: Theory / Knowledge / Awareness

•Tailored to user needs • Novel use of interactive video and simulation techniques

• Web based solution – classroom or remote

• Command: Command / Team Operation

• Collaborative – Commander, Operators, multiple platforms • Simulation based

• Allows teams to train in dynamic scenario – tailored for geographic region and force mix • Tailored to specific operations

• Sonar Operator • Simulation based, embedded

• Train using real software against defined scenarios – Anytime

• Maintainer

• Combination of simulation and real equipment

*A Complete Solution Internal / External Communications Sonar Command and Control – Sonar & EW processing – Situational awareness – Fire control

Chess Dynamics

Chess Dynamics Air Shield

 

 

 

 

Chess Dynamics showed Air Shield at the DSEI brief. Chess Dynamics has developed automated drone protection systems specifically for use at airports. The capabilities, launched at the British-Irish Airports EXPO, have been developed in response to the evolving sophistication and increased frequency of attacks on civilian infrastructure by unmanned aircraft, or drones.

Based on the military-proven Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) AUDS, installed by Chess at London Gatwick Airport following the sustained drone attack in December 2018 which closed the airport, the new scalable systems have been developed specifically to offer protection within the airport perimeter and flightpath for up to 10km from the runway.

Commenting on the rationale for development of the new systems, Graham Beall, Managing Director of the Chess Group, said: “The recent high profile drone attacks at international airports highlighted the urgent requirement for effective counter-drone technologies that meet the specific needs of airports to ensure public safety, and reduce the risk of costly operational downtime when suspected attacks occur.”

A Sky News investigation in February this year found that the number of drone incidents reported to UK police forces had risen by 40 per cent between 2016 and 2018 to 2,400 incidents, including dozens of reports of drones being flown within the flightpaths of airports. 

Chess’s new C-UAS capabilities have been specifically developed to meet the needs of non-military organisations, including airports and areas of critical infrastructure. Based on two elements – AirGuard – protecting the airport perimeter, and AirShield – protecting the flightpath, the systems are configured to the specific requirements and desired level of security of each installation. Both systems are aimed at providing fully automated detection and alert to unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) presence to minimise resource required, and significantly reduce the risk of error and security response delay.

AirGuard is a versatile, fully automated C-UAS solution, creating a 3D detection and protection ‘bubble’ around the perimeter of the airport. Incorporating multiple sensors including radar, acoustic sensors, radio frequency (RF) direction-finders and electro-optical (EO) video tracking technology, the system automatically detects and tracks airborne objects and flags an alert to the operator. Using real-time analysis of the camera output, the operator can classify the threat and use a simple system to respond to an emerging situation, escalating or downgrading the security threat as required. It also allows the operators to provide necessary security agencies with accurate information, including recorded video evidence for future prosecution purposes, whilst minimising potential disruption from false alarms.

The flexible system can be integrated into existing video management systems and security infrastructure to reduce both the cost of operation and resource required. It is available either as a fixed installation or can be mounted onto a vehicle – the latter designed to support smaller airports to provide greater flexibility.

AirShield offers Air Traffic Control (ATC) operations an automated UAV detection and alert solution to maximise protection of the flightpath up to 10km from the runway, enabling rapid decisions to be made, including ordering aircraft to divert their course, should a threat be identified.

Installed as a completely self-contained and stand-alone 3D radar electro-optic solution, the system can be fully integrated into existing ATC infrastructure. It is capable of auto-alerting operators of using radar detection and automatically enables real-time tracking and classification using multi-spectrum electro-optical video capability. The system is able to provide ATC with fast and accurate location, flight velocity and bearing data until the point where the UAV is no longer a danger to aircraft.

Discussing the development of the capabilities, Graham Beall said: “The AUDS counter-drone capability, which Chess’s technology is a major component of, is proven in military use, and it provided the basis of the initial solution that was delivered to London Gatwick in December, as part of their security response.

“The needs of airports are very different to those in a military scenario, and these new solutions, based on our existing C-UAS capabilities and the experience gained working with Gatwick, are designed to meet the specific requirements of civilian organisations – chiefly scalability, ease of use and minimising resources required, alongside the ability to provide automated alerts, reducing operational burden and potential risk of human error.”

Containerised C-UAS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Bespoke ISO shipping container equipped with complete mission capable system

• Combines C-UAS combat proven electronic-scanning radar target detection, electro-optical (EO) tracking/classification and directional RF inhibition / kills

• Protects and improves survivability of the force, critical installations, and assets

2019 AUDS C-UAS has demonstrated operational capability with multiple systems deployed in combat operations since 2017

• Detects and defends single to swarm level UAS threats up to 3.5km

• Initialize/calibrate and begin operations within 5 minutes of start or less

• Single operator, intuitive GUI

• Self sustained for remote operation

• Deployable on naval ships or land

MIPS for Military Vehicle Systems

Key Features:

• 360° Protection Coverage

• Mission Configurable

 • Automatic Detect, Track and Destroy

• RF Inhibitor options

• Interoperability with new Weapon/Munition Systems and Air Defence Guided Weapons

• Directed Energy options

• Solid state 3D air defence radar options

• High performance EO/Radar Tracking Systems

 • Fully integrated to combat and C2 systems, mesh network

The Hawkeye Land Systems Family

 

 

 

 

 

Electro optical based intelligent sub-systems for surveillance, reconnaissance situational awareness, targeting, route clearance and weapon control and fire control systems.

The Hawkeye Land Systems include: Hawkeye VS Mobile Electro Optical Surveillance System, Hawkeye FS Fixed Electro Optical Surveillance System, Hawkeye CS Combat Electro Optical Surveillance System 40, Hawkeye AD M-SHORAD and GBAD Air Defense Electro Optical System with optional radar.

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