BAE Systems plc (BAE), the United Kingdom's largest defense and aerospace contractor and the world's third largest defense contractor, is working to manage pressures on its business from budgetary cut¬backs in the United States and the United Kingdom.
First, the good news. Even though the recent F-35 fire and subsequent fleet grounding came at a bad time, it likely will be brief. Since the aircraft has accumulated more than 3,000 flights and 5,000 flight hours, the problem is highly unlikely to be related to a serious design flaw. As of late last week, it appeared to be the result of "excessive rubbing" of engine blades on the powerplant cowling.
Company profitability has improved dramatically. Profit margins are now high and continuing to increase. The goal now is to make the company more of a systems integrator in areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles rather than a supplier of individual subsystems. Debt reduction has taken precedence over acquisitions although the company has been very active in making small, niche acquisitions in cyber security.
If you look at the number of satellites being launched to earth orbit over the past decade, there has been consistent growth. In 2004, a total of 76 satellites were launched (or attempted). In 2013, there were 215. That is almost a tripling of the market. But these numbers are deceptive. Here's why. In 2004, only 17% of the satellites that went up had a mass of 100 kilograms or less. In 2005, it was 11%. Last year, about half of the satellites weighed 100 kg or less.
Repeat after me... Z-vez-da. Remember that word, because you'll be hearing it a lot over the next few months, and probably years. Zvezda is a space module that weighs about 42,000 pounds. It was launched aboard a Russian Proton K rocket to low earth orbit (LEO) on July 12, 2000. About a year later, it became the cornerstone of the International Space Station (ISS)...
Cemeteries are sad; sadder still is a large field of unmarked graves. After this year's Berlin Air Show (ILA), my Teal colleagues Bill Storey, Joel Johnson, Phil Finnegan and I all trundled off on a road trip to see battlefields in Eastern Germany and Poland. Thanks to Bill's borderline obsessive attention to topographical detail, we walked on pretty fields where, in 1945, tens of thousands of bodies fell along the Kustrin Highway, the Third Reich's last stand.
The CAMM effort is further evidence of the collapse of multi-national European missile efforts under MBDA. In theory, the British FLAADS requirement could be satisfied by MICA-VL which is basically in the same niche as FLAADS. Instead, the British side of MBDA is engaging in an entirely separate effort from the French or Germans to satisfy domestic needs and to create an attractive export product to re-place the past generation of Rapier/Seawolf.