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Raytheon UK – Investing In Innovation and Technology By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

Emphasis in ‘commentary’ today on another example of an important internationally based company that has long been and continues to be a very important component of UK sovereign capability, technology and innovation investment and one continues to invest heavily in its UK manufacturing and production facilities. With the phrase ‘innovation the prosperity agenda’ on government and industry minds, Raytheon UK serves as a very useful reminder of what many companies involved in the specialist aerospace and defence industry have been doing for years – investing in Britain. Raytheon is one company that will always stand out in respect of what it has achieved and apart from continuing to invest in the UK, shares the benefits of the wider international business investment and established skills in the US with its UK operations bringing with it, additional benefits to the UK. A formidable business Raytheon UK certainly is and one that has been working hard supporting and later operating in the UK for many decades.

With five key UK sites, employing over 1,600 people and supporting around 10,300 jobs across the UK, Raytheon UK is no slouch when it comes to the economic contribution it makes to the UK. Independently assessed, the GDP footprint of Raytheon UK totalled £743 million in 2015, half of which was attributable to its Scotland based operations and which, based at Glenrothes, Fife, employ over 600 highly skilled engineers and technicians.

Although a large supplier to the MOD and others in the UK, typically and importantly, somewhere between 50% and 60% of what Raytheon produces here in the UK is exported. Of note too is that the company spends around £20 million per annum on research and development. Raytheon also invest heavily in people, in training, in graduate and apprentice schemes and importantly, in STEM.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Waltham, Massachusetts based Raytheon Company, a world leader in Missile Defense, Command and Control, Sensors and Imaging, Electronic Warfare, Cyber, Precision Weapons and other sections of defense Raytheon UK heritage evolved over 100 years and includes the UK’s primary developer of radar during the Second World War and one of the world’s first true air defence systems producers.

AS the gateway to the rest of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa the importance of what Raytheon produces here in the UK and of how the company supports and promotes the best of UK together with US and European based research and technology development from here in the UK should not be underestimated. Well run by CEO Richard Daniel and an excellent management team under the UK chairmanship of former UKTI DSO Head, Sir Richard Paniguian, what follows is a description of the main elements of what Raytheon does in the UK today. I apologise in advance for what I may well have missed:

The Glenrothes site of Raytheon UK and which I had had the pleasure of visiting two-years ago is responsible for advanced electronic assemblies and systems and is home to the huge investment that the company has put into Silicon Carbide Fabrication production and various other aspects of radar and precision guided weapons based missile capability.

At RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire Raytheon Systems is responsible for management and operation of the entire ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Reconnaissance system) complex that includes Royal Air Force 5 (AC) Squadron headquarters as well as the highly sophisticated training facility. The complex contains full classroom, offices and student rest facilities together with a training equipment hall and a range of advanced training aids that include a Fixed Base Flight Crew Sentinel aircraft trainer, rear crew trainer, ground station crew trainer, target generator, radar simulator together with a mission interface simulator.

At the company’s Broughton site in North Wales just a few miles from the important city of Chester, Raytheon UK operates from highly invested modern facilities with activities engaged principally in developing and supporting ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Reconnaissance) programme systems and MRO operation. Broughton is currently carrying out modification and integration work on the Royal Air Force Sentinel R Mk 1 aircraft and the integration of the Ground Stations. In addition to utilising indigenous capability and skills generated in-house at Broughton for the airframe and other modification work required, the Broughton site benefits from technology transfer from the US. Last October I was present when the Minister of Defence Procurement, Harriet Baldwin MP signed five year support contracts with Raytheon worth approximately £131.5 million covering the four RAF Sentinel surveillance aircraft.

The Royal Air Force Sentinel fleet is one of the most important C4ISR capabilities to be found in Europe and the capability has been used to provide support to a number of NATO allies most notably, the French government in Mali. It has been used in Op. Herrick and Op Ellamy and will remain vital force capability. Sentinel aircraft capability provides ‘eye in the sky’ airborne mission management system providing persistent, wide-area, all-weather surveillance that is made instantly available to ground forces. Sentinel uses air to ground search capabilities through scanning areas from a safe distance to protect ground forces and in the ability to deliver actionable and highly accurate information via ground stations.

Harlow is home of Raytheon UK design and manufacturing facilities. The long established operation has an international reputation in a number of high technology areas including air traffic management systems, identification and jam-resistant navigation systems. Harlow is also heavily involved in Raytheon ISR and Network Enabled Capability activities plus other major Raytheon UK programmes, such as ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Reconnaissance) and Paveway™ IV all-weather precision guided weapon strike capability and which has an achieved a formidable 98% accuracy deployed on Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 aircraft during Operation Herrick and Ellamy.

Other Raytheon UK sites include Gloucester which is home to the fast developing cyber security business and where specialist customer based end to end cyber related research and software development takes place. The Cyber Innovation Centre (CIC) opened in 2015 is the first cyber ecosystem of its kind in the UK is also based in Gloucester.  The CIC operates as a vulnerability research, software and innovation hub for intelligence and global cyber security bringing industry, academia and customer closer together to sort some of the more complex cyber related issues now being faced. Raytheon already has an established global network of cyber centres and in the UK the company has an established relationship working with a host of large and medium sized companies and Universities across the nation including Cambridge, Bath, Middlesex and Brunel Universities and Cranfield.

A separate location in Manchester is home to intelligence, security and resilience activities Raytheon UK has been an industry leader in respect of early recognition that the best way to combat threats in the rapidly changing cyber domain is by actively encouraging investment in cyber defence by switching from prevention to active hunting and resilience. In this area of expertise the company provides cyber mission support software development, cyber security and vulnerability research services by working with a broad cyber ecosystem of large and small partners and academia.

The company expertise in areas such as intuitive search, geo-spatial visualisation and information discovery platforms, Defence Targeting Toolset (DTT) which with its unique architecture is able to handle multiple effects from kinetic targeting and provide information operations to humanitarian aid missions, Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) systems that provide unique advanced flexible IT infrastructure capable of rapid exploitation and allowing multiple collaboration if required.

The list of activities that Raytheon UK engages includes other lesser known fields such as wind farm mitigation technology which it has supplied to customers all over the world including Federal Aviation Authority, NATS in the UK, the US Department of Defense and military and defence establishments in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.


Raytheon history in the UK starts with the acquisition of A.C. Cossor Ltd in 1961 although the two companies had been working together long before that. An electronics company with a long history itself A.C. Cossor had begun experimenting with radio waves back in the mid-1930s. What evolved form this was the Radio Detection and Ranging System, a device that would soon become known by the acronym – RADAR.

A.C. Cossor Ltd would later be selected by the Air Ministry to build the critical receiving units and operator displays that would make the network of air defence radar capability fully usable. During the Battle of Britain Chain Home, which was to be the first operational radar system in the world, included 19 transmitting and receiving stations, provided a protective umbrella from the Shetland Islands to Lands’ End. With it, the Royal Air Force gained a precious 20-minute warning that would deny the German air attack the element of surprise by allowing fighter squadrons to scramble in order to provide a ‘welcoming committee’ against air attack. As WW2 progressed, UK industry was unable to mass-produce the tens of thousands of magnetron tubes (these are at the heart of radar function) needed. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in the US, a small but then relatively unknown company called Raytheon had also been experimenting with microwave tubes while actually producing transmitting tubes at the same time. At the suggestion of MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, a meeting was arranged between UK scientists and Raytheon engineer, Percy L. Spencer. Impressed with what it found in the Raytheon work, the Air Ministry awarded, through the MIT Radiation Laboratory, a contract for Raytheon US to supply the magnetrons.

Ultimately, Raytheon would become a major supplier of magnetrons to the allied forces during the war and in the post war years Raytheon and A.C. Cossor continued to build on the established relationship with the latter responsible for introducing the first commercial aircraft radar systems to guide aircraft to and from UK airports. In 1961, Raytheon acquired A.C. Cossor.

The new generation of Raytheon Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar is known as the ATMS Condor Mk 3 Mode S MSSR system. UK developed, innovative, low cost, high probability detection radar that brings together indigenous state-of-the-art surveillance technologies that provide cutting-edge, reliable, hardware to air traffic control operations all over the world. To date, Raytheon has supplied well over 500 MSSR systems to military and commercial establishments.

Silicon Carbide

Raytheon has invested very heavily in UK silicon carbide production that has included a new foundry facility at Glenrothes opened in 2013. Silicon carbide has been increasingly in demand by many industries including solar energy, rail transportation, automotive, renewables plus others and where SiC-based semi-conductors can enable higher power density and greater performance efficiencies. The Silicon Carbide (SiC) Semiconductor Foundry located at Raytheon Glenrothes and which I have previously visited is the world’s first full-scale production-ready facility open to semiconductor manufacturers seeking fabrication solutions.

With over 12 years’ experience in SiC wafer processing, Raytheon’s silicon carbide foundry offers a flexible, less capital intensive route to device manufacturing. Highly skilled engineers that are considered world-class in their respective field focus expertise on the production of silicon carbide devices designed to operate at high voltage whilst rapidly delivering high-yielding wafers at the most cost-effective prices. I am not technical as many of you know, but according to the website, Raytheon’s High Temperature Silicon Carbide (HiTSiC) is a breakthrough the SiC process and one that has enabled the world’s first 400-degree Celsius SiC transistors. It has also demonstrated SiC integrated circuit devices up to 300-degree Celsius, this being achieved through the development of SiC wafer processing and individual device design technology to enable more robust integrated circuits that are suitable for high temperature operation.

HiTSiC technology is considered to be a “game changer” in energy, sustainability and green-related applications through the ability to bring higher efficiencies in power electronics and sensing. This is UK based sovereign capability at its best and may be regarded as world-class cutting-edge technology that allows smaller, lighter electronics to operate in harsh environments. It has enabled major benefits to be delivered to aerospace, defence, oil and gas industries together with geothermal exploration and other harsh environmental segments. Raytheon continues to work toward serving other commercial market segments for extreme-environment sensors, control and instrumentation applications.

Other Activities

Amongst a range of other hugely important products, defence electronics and other commercial products and applications produced by Raytheon UK include power products and electrical power systems, GPS Anti-Jam products, Assured Position Navigation and Timing solutions, Strider (a micro GPS Denied Position and Navigations System, that although I have yet to see and use I am told provides real-time 3D positional accuracy. Similarly, GroundEye, a modular, non-invasive tactical manoeuvre support capability for real-time detection, confirmation and diagnosis of Explosive Ordnance hazards and other buried and concealed threats such as IED’s – Improvised Explosive Devices –is another great Raytheon UK developed innovation that would appear to have ever increasing relevance in a world where the threats to peace and stability are so many and varied and which, in the case of IED’s, has destroyed the lives of so many civilians.

CHW (London – 21st February 2017)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS

Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,

M: +44 7710 779785

Skype: chwheeldon



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