02 Mar 23. Many congratulations to Dunkeswell, Devon based ‘Supacat’ and Devonport-based Babcock International have secured a multi-million-pound UK MoD contract to build an additional 70 of the hugely successful Jackal High Mobility Transporters (HMT 400 Series) fast terrain armoured cars.
Building another batch of the highly significant specialist military vehicles for the Army and which I should add here, that a few years ago I had the great pleasure of driving through some very difficult terrain in Devon and having also previously visited Babcock’s excellent large facilities in Devonport and Supercat’ s design and development facilities in nearby Dunkeswell ‘ is a very significant win for both companies. The MOD award to build another 70 Jackal vehicles – already well proven in service with the British Army and that previously deployed to Afghanistan and elsewhere is highly significant and will see an additional 90 jobs being created in Plymouth and also, I understand, enable Babcock to expand operations in the freeport’s South Yard tax-break site. Hopefully further orders will emerge and the export potential from a vehicle and partnership such as this could be very interesting.
Separately, I had failed to mention that Babcock International announced two weeks ago that it had been awarded the contract to manage and operate Skynet, the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) military satellite communications system.
The six-year contract, with an initial value of more than £400 million, forms part of the MOD’s £6 billion Skynet 6 programme, sustaining more than 400 jobs in the south-west of the UK.
Skynet Service Delivery Wrap (SDW) will encompass the operation of the UK’s constellation of military satellites and ground stations, including the integration of terminals into the MOD network, ensuring they are integrated and supported.
Babcock will partner with SES, GovSat and Intelsat on Skynet SDW.
David Lockwood, CEO for Babcock, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to support this world-leading technological safeguard. Skynet enables vital communications to the UK Armed Forces wherever they are, helping to keep them safe.
Skynet forms the backbone of all UK military satellite communications and it has been hugely successful. In service since the late 1960’s, with the sixth Skynet generation satellite, Skynet 6A, currently under construction by Airbus in Hertfordshire and set to be launched in 2025, the UK will be in a strong position with more capacity available.
The MOD contract award to Babcock International includes the services necessary to support the current Skynet infrastructure, as well as the successful transition and continuous delivery of service for future Skynet operations.
Babcock and its partners bring the stability, knowledge, and pedigree of a proven service provider with the leading commercial and military satellite operators to utilise the best-in-class solutions the industry has to offer.
Backed by its unique, collective international experience across defence and satcom operations, the partnership will provide a low risk, uninterrupted service which brings an assured end-to-end approach for the MOD. Its one-team ethos integrates the customer, partners, and supply chain to deliver an adaptable, agile and supportable service delivery solution.
Separately, Babcock International announced earlier this week that it has entered into an agreement with funds managed by Ancala Partners, a mid-market infrastructure investor, for the sale of certain of its aerial emergency services businesses for a gross cash consideration of €136.2 million (which equates to around £115 million), subject to closing adjustments and before transaction costs.
These businesses provide aerial emergency medical services, firefighting and search & rescue to customers and communities in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Finland. They employ over 2,400 highly trained employees and operate a fleet of 232 aircraft across 164 operational locations in the six countries. Babcock will retain its aerial emergency services businesses in its focus countries of the UK, France, Canada and Australia, where the Group also operates defence businesses.
The sale forms part of Babcock’s portfolio alignment programme, designed to focus the Group and reduce complexity. Proceeds from the transaction will be retained for general corporate purposes. Babcock CEO David Lockwood said: “The agreement marks another significant step forward in our strategy to align our portfolio. I would like to thank colleagues for their commitment and hard work in providing vital services for their customers, not least through the pandemic, and I wish them and Ancala every success for the future.”
The above disposal which is expected to complete before the end of the calendar year goes a long way to completing the portfolio alignment and reorganisation that CEO David Lockwood announced two years ago. Babcock today is leaner and fitter as a result and having won the above and many other orders over the past couple of years the realigned company looks to have a great future.
CHW (London – 2nd March 2023
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785