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Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group – Onwards and Ever Upwards By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

marshall-queens-awardNews that Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group (Marshalls ADS) is to be part of technology consortium that will build a prototype laser weapon for the Ministry of Defence is further confirmation of how the Cambridge based business continues to build on its long history of success in engineering support and technology development.

Code named Dragonfly, the £30 million contract which the MOD is currently finalising will be the UK’s first laser weapon development. Led by missile manufacturer MBDA, Marshalls ADG is partnered with BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace, QinetiQ, Leonardo Finmeccanica and engineering consultants Arke.

The contract calls for a demonstrator Laser Directed Energy Weapon capability demonstrator to be delivered as early as 2019. Intended for use on ships against enemy jets and missile attack and to be eventually deployed by ground troops to take out mortar attacks when testing eventually starts the prototype will used to determine whether Dragonfly can identify and track targets at different ranges and in the most hostile weather. Assuming the device lives up to expectations, it could well eventually replace conventional systems, saving the MoD crucial cash at a time when defence budgets are under severe pressure.

Requiring energy only to fire, Dragonfly does not need expensive ammunition or missiles to support it. As one of the many different systems that are or can be expected to be developed under the MOD’s £800m Innovation Fund which was officially launched by Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon last week and that has been devised to harness advanced innovation from technology development, it is good to see that defence companies really are embracing the governments call to increase innovation in order to not only provide the UK military with a critical edge in battle scenarios but also to benefit the economy and export potential. For the independently owned Marshall Aerospace and Defence, this is just another example of working in partnership with others and building on its long history of innovation and success across the defence and aerospace sectors.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence continues to be in very expansive mood and with a strategy to grow business in the Middle East and Europe across all the various design engineering, manufacturing and support areas, and with a long history and record of being trusted by its customers for consistent quality of service, engineering excellence, flexibility of offering and reliability of end product there would appear to be ample scope left for the company to grow.

While the company is perhaps best known for its work on conversion, modification, maintenance and support of military and civil aircraft and particularly that related to the Lockheed Martin C-130 military aircraft on which aircraft it is worth recalling here that Marshall’s has just celebrated fifty years of working partnership collaboration with the Royal Air Force, the company also provides conversion and support work on various other military and civil aircraft in its hangars at Cambridge. With new aircraft types coming into service and given its long record of trusted partnerships with users, Marshall ADS is well placed to secure more new business in the years ahead.

On the Lockheed Martin C-130 family of aircraft and which worldwide is regarded as the workhorse of the military, Marshall ADS now works for close to a dozen international air forces. The company has the potential to increase this number further and with thousands of Hercules aircraft built over the past sixty years still in service and the aircraft still being in production by Lockheed Martin the scope to increase business looks very strong. Reputation and giving the end customer the service promised and required are the hallmarks of Marshall ADS. Efficiency, reducing customer costs through doing things in a different way and by ensuring good aircraft availability are also important reasons why customer air forces and airlines choose Marshalls ADS.

It is also worth recalling that towards the end of 2015 Marshall ADS was part of a consortium, including Rolls-Royce and Lockheed Martin awarded a £369 million contract to deliver the Hercules Integrated Operational Support (HIOS) for the fleet of Royal Air Force C-130J aircraft until 2022. In fact, all three companies have been working on the HIOS programme together since 2006 and it is probably correct to say that more than a thousand jobs have and will continue to be sustained as a result of the additional MOD capability investment announced.

Most of the C-130J maintenance support and enhancement work under the HIOS programme will be undertaken by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at its Cambridge site with additional work on the AE 2100 engines carried out by Rolls- Royce in Bristol,  Brize Norton and Indianapolis, US. Lockheed Martin, based in Havant, will be responsible for managing the supply chain.

In terms of engineering solutions, Marshalls ADS engages on a large number of bespoke engineering led product based solutions for aerospace, navy and marine applications with the primary customer base here being platform suppliers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus, BAE Systems Bombardier and Embraer. Products and services offered are focused on specific areas of capability enhancement such as advanced composites that are used increasingly these days to reduce weight and to replace what would hitherto have been heavy metal based products. Examples here are the auxiliary fuel tanks for the Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft which is already in service with the US Navy and that is in the process of being acquired for the Royal Air Force. Composite components are also being produced by Marshall ADG for the UK Astute submarine programme, lightweight composite flight crew helmets for BAE Systems, air to air refueling probes for Lockheed Martin C-130J and Embraer 145 missioned aircraft. This is only the start of what could be in my view a fast growing business area for Marshalls ADG.

An important part of the Marshalls ADG business area is the cost effective conversion of various types of turboprop and jet aircraft. From small business aircraft to large commercial jets requiring conversion to specialist roles that could encompass reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, communication, maritime or search and rescue conversion requirements, Marshalls ADG has a very long record of success in work such as this. Obsolescence management, structural integrity and performance, avionics integration plus other forms of systems integration are all important aspects of the work of Marshall ADG.

Additionally, Marshall ADS is well known for the design and manufactures specialist defence vehicles for in-theatre medical evacuation and recently, for the development of a highly specialist deployable/mobile hospital system for the MOD that comes complete with all the departments that would be expected of a conventional trauma hospital. These include resuscitation, full operating theatre, intensive care wards, and advanced diagnostics, together with the necessary infrastructure such as recovery wards, sterilisation, and pharmacy and laboratory facilities. The mobile hospital system has full environmental control maintaining optimum temperature and humidity levels throughout the entire hospital within a wide range of external climatic conditions.

The above has been seen as a step change in providing a modern clinical infrastructure in a military environment. The hospital is designed to operate as a coherent system, complete with a fully integrated logistic support and it will allow the MOD to provide world leading capabilities similar to those expected in any National Health Service facility but with the advantage of being able to be deployed into a forward operating area. It is indeed very impressive.

I have concentrated here on some of what Marshalls ADS does but it would be wrong to ignore other group activities:

Part of the privately owned Marshall Group which has combined annual turnover in excess of £1.6bn and employed 5,100 people at the end of 2015, it is very clear that the number one priority in the company strategy is to remain independent. Indeed, I recall with some pleasure a couple of years ago a senior member of Marshall Group management saying something along the lines of ‘we are British and we are independent and we will survive provided that we continue to add value’.

Marshall Group continue to add value in spades across all spheres of the business activity just as they have never forgotten that supporting the customer is at the heart of all the business that they do. Senior management also realise that however successful they have been during their 107 year history that standing still cannot be an option. The company has always and will I am sure continue to embrace change. Marshall’s is no shy when it comes to investing in itself and its own future. Indeed, in observing the expansion of Marshall ADS under the excellent management of CEO Steve Fitzgerald in recent years I am left in no doubt that this is a company that is more than ready to embrace the challenge of innovation to the full.

Other changes to note at Marshall Group over the past eighteen months have including the floatation of the Motor Holdings business on the AIM market. Planned as part of a plan to raise expansion capital, the parent company retains 65% of the shares of Marshalls Motor Holdings and of note, the now floated company was able in July to announce record interim financial results for the first half of this year and also that it had completed the purchase of SGS and Ridgeway, a move that dramatically increased the number of franchises and brands sold by the company and taking the number of sites across 25 counties of England in which it operated to 89.

I wrote some months ago following the announcement that Sir Michael Marshall would after 61 years involvement with the company 27 of which had been as chairmen would be standing down as Group Chairman of Marshalls on the 1st of October this year and that his place would be taken by Alex Dorrian. Mr. Dorrian is well known to many of us in the aerospace and defence world through his many years of involvement with Thales UK.

For the record, Marshall Group consists of four main segments:

Marshall Aerospace and Defence employing over 2,000 specialist and highly skilled people and with an annual turnover exceeding £320 million, the company is the UK’s largest independent aerospace and defence company. Known, respected and trusted worldwide by air forces and airlines all over the world for its expertise in civil, military and commercial aircraft and defence solutions, Marshalls ADG is perhaps best known for its highly specialist work in conversion, modification, maintenance and support of military and civil aircraft and for a variety of air, land and sea defence solutions. Specialist capabilities include engineering design, manufacture, test, certification, maintenance and support plus provision of personnel, training and advice. With over 80 years of aviation experience, Marshall’s ADG can boast having completed over 1,500 specific aircraft modifications in more than 35 countries.

Headquartered at our airport in Cambridge, UK and with offices around the globe, it has a worldwide customer base and continues to support major platform OEMs such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bombardier, BAE Systems, Beechcraft, Airbus and Embraer, as well as airlines, MRO organisations and nine Air Forces.

Marshall Group Properties owns and is responsible for 364 hectares (approx. 900 acres) of land including the Cambridge Airport site along with substantial land holdings adjacent to the airport. The company manages over 1.5m square feet of commercial and industrial buildings. Through major development projects to the north of the airport site and on nearby land at Cherry Hinton the company is working to bring forward the building of around 2,500 new homes, a secondary school, local centers and other infrastructure that will transform the east side of Cambridge.

Marshall Motor Holdings plc now an independently quoted public company on the AIM market, Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited remains the majority shareholder in Marshall Motor Holdings plc. Marshall Motor Holdings’ principal activities are the sale and repair of new and used vehicles through Marshall Motors and the leasing of vehicles through Marshall Leasing. They include a total of 103 franchises covering 24 brands across 25 counties in England, as well as five trade parts specialists, seven used car centers, four standalone body shops, one forecourt and one PDI centre. Following the acquisition of Ridgeway, Marshall Motor Holdings has an annual turnover in excess of £2.1bn per annum and 3,500 colleagues, and sells over 100,000 new and used vehicles and over 1,000,000 service and repair hours per annum. Marshall Motor Holdings aims to be the UK’s premier automotive retail and leasing group as recognised by its colleagues, customers, business partners and shareholders.

Marshall Fleet Solutions may be a smaller and less well known part of the group but it remains one of the UK’s largest mobile transport refrigeration and tail lift networks and one of the largest Thermo King dealers in Europe. The company provides sales and after sales support for transport refrigeration, tail lift, moving deck and ancillary equipment and is backed by complete fleet management and service maintenance packages designed to suit all end user needs. Marshal Fleet Solutions has twelve fully equipped service centers across the UK, with over 150 mobile engineers, who offer mobile service support to a vast customer base from small operators to major logistics providers and supermarket end users. MFS is unique in that it has made significant investment in a dedicated installation facility to meet the demands of supermarket home delivery vehicles providing the full bespoke solution from specification to product development through to installation and onward delivery and end user handover training.

CHW (London – 19th March 2016)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS

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