BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold went down to Farnham to see the new DRS UK Headquarters located at the Coxbridge Business Park and met Managing Director Peter Hurst and President of the C4ISR Group of DRS Technologies, Sally Wallace.
“Sally, what is the role of DRS UK in your organization?” The Editor asked.
“Well, DRS UK has been an important part of DRS Technologies for more than 15 years. In that time, DRS UK has demonstrated the tangible benefits that result from being positioned more closely to our UK and other EU customers. We are certainly able to be more responsive to our customers and to provide products and services more cost effectively, because we are located here in the UK. It is difficult to imagine how we could have developed and maintained our trusted partner relationships with customers like the BAE (Eurofighter) or GD UK (BOWMAN), if we were not operating here in the UK. Peter’s team has also played important roles in the expansion of our business into new markets, like the UAE. As DRS continues to expand our UK and international business, I expect the role and importance of DRS UK to continue to grow.”
“Peter, what prompted the move from your previous building?”
“Lynwood House, which you will remember well, was not an ideal location for the business model and vision that we have for the DRS UK going forward. We were able to carry out basic fabrications, test and support, but that’s as far as it went. Indeed the building proved its worth by being the UK Centre of Excellence to enable DRS UK to win the Bowman computer contracts and associated projects. This new building is better suited to supporting our vision and business model allowing us to offer a complete systems integration capability of higher grade mission and command systems together with a wider variety of technologies. We can now design, develop and qualify and integrate systems under one roof. In addition we can provide support and test for other parts of DRS such as DVE systems and weapons sights to allow for faster turnaround to our UK and European customers.” Peter Hurst said.
“How many people does DRS UK employ?”
“We have forty two people employed here at Farnham, thirteen being qualified engineers. We have an additional nine engineers at our Long Bennington, Lincolnshire facility supporting our growing Airborne EW Test Capability.”
“Sally, it is now seven years since the Finmeccancia acquisition, what has this meant for DRS Technologies?
“We are a stronger company now. We enjoy good partnerships across the Finmeccanica family of companies and we are able to leverage the international presence of a global leader in Aerospace and Defence business. For my C4ISR Group, the Finmeccanica companies, like Selex ES, provide truly complementary capabilities that have enabled DRS to expand our addressable market by increasing the capabilities and market attractiveness of our offerings.”
“Peter, how has the Finmeccanica acquisition of DRS changed the manner by which you carry out business in the UK?”
“Well, I certainly echo what Sally said. It is good to be a part of a company that is well and truly recognized, inside of Europe and abroad, as a leader in the Defence business. DRS UK remains a standalone UK Company, paying UK tax and reporting to Sally’s C4ISR Group in Arlington, Virginia, USA. Inside of Finmecanica, we enjoy many synergies, and have very good working relationship, with Selex ES in particular. Selex and DRS UK have collaborated on multiple joint efforts. A great example is the DRS UK development of family of GVA-compatible smart displays, in particular the new RD104, developed in coordination with Selex, which now form an integral part of Selex’s GVA Mission System implementation. The DRS UK smart display family is complemented by the latest user and digital interfaces being adopted by open-standards based mission systems, as required by Def Stan 23-09 GVA.”
“Peter, how do you interface with your US counterparts in Melbourne, Florida?”
“DRS C4ISR Systems capability in the US is unsurpassed in technology, value for money and rugged capability. They are the world-leading supplier of Battle Management Systems (BMS) hardware and tactical computing solutions. The DRS 13-year position as sole US Army supplier of hardware for the FBCB2 Program and now M-FoCS (hardware for Joint Battle Command Platform (JBCP)) has given us considerable leverage to enable us to offer our UK customers GDUK and ultimately the UK MoD with the best technology at an affordable and supportable price. This has been proven by our ability to win similar positions here in the UK as supplier for the tactical data terminals for the UK BOWMAN Programme, since its inception – to include the fleet-wide upgrade of more than 10,000 terminals under BCIP 5.4. We also work very closely with our counterparts in Huntsville, Alabama, where the DRS Test & Diagnostics (T&D) Centre of Excellence is located. We jointly collaborate and deliver T&D products for ground platforms and airborne Electronic Warfare (EW) systems.”
“Has this success in the UK and US flowed into export orders?”
“Yes, we have had major wins in the NIMR vehicle Programme in UAE, the Mountaineers Programme in Romania and Holland with the Marines. The recent streamlining of US export regulations, which shifts most of our products from US State Department ITAR jurisdiction to regulation under the US Commerce Department, will make our offerings more appealing to international customers and should also allow us to speed up acquisitions and develop sales in a much faster, more predictable process.”
“DRS is a key player on US Army’s M-FoCS and UK Bowman, how do you see DRS UK being placed for Morpheus in the UK, Peter?”
“Morpeheus is still in its Study Phase with PA Consulting, a process which has moved to the right, so we don’t expect an announcement in the near future, However, given the new facilities you are seeing today and our strong technology links into M-FoCS in the US, we see DRS UK as being a major provider of technology into Morpheus. Our existing computers and vehicle and command post networked systems will create an overlay onto which Morpheus can reside giving the system and seamless transition from Bowman to the new Morpheus architecture.”
“Sally, are there other examples of DRS C4ISR Group success in the USA that could result in enhanced UK and International business prospects for DRS?”
“Yes, I think there are several recent C4ISR developments that are noteworthy and will likely be of interest to UK and International customers: Earlier this year, we won the US Army contract for rifle-mounted thermal weapon sights. This program is called Family of Weapon Sights – Individual, or FWS-I. This new level of capability will be of interest to ground forces looking to upgrade their current capabilities; the US Army is currently testing our On-Board Vehicle Power (OBVP) system for use in tactical applications like mobile command posts and network communication nodes. This solution, jointly developed with our partner Allison, provides for 30-60 KW of exportable power generation from a system seamlessly integrated into the transmission. When compared with the commonly used towed generator, DRS OBVP is a very advantageous solution for deployability, maintainability, and cross-county mobility; Finally, I’d like to mention our recent launch of the Polaris multi-channel wideband analog tuner. Polaris is the latest generation of our long legacy of providing best-in-class tuners for signal measurement, spectrum monitoring and direction finding solutions. Polaris is optimized for Size, Weight, Power and Cost (SWaP-C) and is ideal export product for customers that want to enhance their current capabilities.”