Babcock announces 1,000 job cuts, most of them in the UK

Babcock has announced it would cut 1,000 jobs this year, around 850 of them the UK. Under a review of the business, Babcock is also set to divest sections of the business estimated to be worth £400m.

Babcock said it was changing its operating model ‘to create a business that is more efficient and effective’ and would reduce layers of management to form a ‘simpler, flatter structure’. The company said its cost-saving measures would result in £40m of one-off costs but also deliver annual savings of around £40m.

“The changes will result in approximately 1,000 employees leaving the group within the next twelve months with an approximate restructuring cost of £40m, most of which are cash costs,” Babcock said in a business update.

“This will reduce our overall operating cost base. Some of the savings will be recognised across long term projects, for example where they form part of existing contract efficiency assumptions, and some savings will benefit our customers via the contract structure.”

Babcock CEO David Lockwood said: “We announced a series of reviews in January and promised to report back on our strategic direction, a new operating model and a new financial baseline at our full-year results. “Today we give you an update on all of these areas. The early results from our reviews show significant write-offs and a smaller ongoing reduction in the profitability of the group.”

Babcock’s share price jumped at the announcement as investors had feared the company was in worse financial shape.

The company said it would focus on being ‘an international aerospace, defence and security company with a leading naval business’.

Under the contract profitability and balance sheet review, Babcock expects group profits to fall by around £30m a year.

// Image: Artist rendering of a Type 31 at the assembly hall. Credit: Babcock


Lockheed Martin UK cuts 158 jobs as Warrior decision bites

Lockheed Martin has announced the loss of 158 jobs at its Ampthill armoured vehicles business following the UK Ministry of Defence’s decision to terminate the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme.

The project was cancelled in the UK’s recently published Defence Command Paper, ending hopes for a production contract worth around £1bn that would have extended the in-service life of the UK’s Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and equip them with a new 40mm cannon.

Lockheed Martin said the loss of the 158 jobs was a ‘direct result’ of the MOD’s decision to terminate the programme and followed a company review of the workforce and workload at the Ampthill site.


UK’s new medium helicopter to fly into 2040s

Whichever helicopter the UK MOD selects for its new medium helicopter requirement will likely be in service until the mid-2040s, Army Technology understands.

As set out in the UK’s Defence Command Paper, a new medium helicopter will replace four in-service helicopters including the Puma and Bell 212 with a single platform. The other two platforms to be replaced have yet to be confirmed, but are speculated to be the Bell 412 and the Dauphin used by the Special Air Service.

Officially the MOD has yet to release details of the programme and the evaluation of the number of helicopters needed and how long they will be in service is still in progress


Syria likely deployed chemical weapon in 2018, finds new investigation

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has found strong evidence that Syria dropped a chemical weapon on the town of Saraqib, Syria, in 2018.

This is the second report by the United Nations-backed organisation in the last year on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country.

The findings of the second report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team concludes that a military helicopter of the Syrian Arab Air Force dropped at least one cylinder of deadly chlorine gas on 4 February 2018. The chemical attack affected at least 12 Syrians on the ground.

The POPCW’s assessment is based on interviews of eyewitnesses, analysis of samples and remnants procured from the sites, evaluation of the symptomatology reported by casualties and medical staff and examination of imagery.

Despite repeated accusations, Syria denies using chemical weapons during the civil war.

Missile defence

Iron Dome marks 10th anniversary of first operational intercept

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the first operational intercept by Rafael’s Iron Dome air defence system. Since then, the system has been credited with a total of 2,500 combat intercepts.

The system’s first combat intercept came on 7 April 2011, less than a month after it was first deployed, intercepting a rocket targeting Ashkelon, a city in Israel.

Iron Dome is designed to intercept very short-range air defence threats, artillery and mortar fires, aircraft, helicopters, uncrewed aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.


Airbus VSR700 demonstrator achieves flight envelope milestone

Airbus has announced that the VSR700 uncrewed aerial system has achieved the first step in opening its flight envelope at low speed.

During the test flight, the VSR700 demonstrator’s speed limit was pushed to 60k (more than 110km/h). At the end of the test, the demonstrator reached an endurance of over ten flight hours.

With the latest milestone, VSR700 programme is moving closer towards providing the French Navy with a sea-demonstration-compatible UAS.


FLIR secures DARPA contract to develop protective fabrics

FLIR Systems has secured a $20.5m contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a fabric that will protect personnel from chemical and emerging biological threats. FLIR will develop a prototype fabric material that can be incorporated into protective suits, boots, gloves and eye protection devices.

Raytheon selects Australian SMEs for Capability Plus programme

Raytheon has selected ten Australian small and medium-sized businesses for its industry engagement programme, which aims to help SMEs win defence contracts in Australia and overseas markets. It allows selected companies to work with Raytheon and support the delivery of capability to Australia’s Defence Force while developing their businesses. The companies selected are AOS Group, archTIS, Calytrix, Coherics, Daronmont, JEDS, Plexsys, Redarc, Silentium and Willyama.

Microsoft and Improbable partner on national security capabilities

Improbable and Microsoft have announced a global partnership covering the defence and national security sector that will see Improbable’s synthetic environment platform become available on Azure on-premises, cloud and cloud-to-edge services. The companies said the combination of their tools would ‘transform’ capabilities including operational planning, policy design, collective training, national resilience and defence experimentation.

Boeing terminates contracts with Air Force One supplier GDC Technics

Boeing has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Texas-based Air Force One supplier GDC Technics and terminated contracts. Boeing has accused the supplier of failing to meet several deadlines and delivery dates and cancelled the contracts for its ‘insolvency and failure to meet contractual obligations’. In the complaint, the company said that GDC Technics was one year behind schedule to finish interior work associated with the two highly customised 747-8 aircraft to be used as Air Force One, reported Reuters.

Elbit to supply self-protection system for NATO tanker

Elbit Systems has been contracted to equip the ninth NATO-owned Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft with J-MUSIC direct infrared countermeasures system. The MRTT is the final aircraft in the fleet, which is operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit. The aircraft are managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency with the support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation on the acquisition phase until the end of next year.

Australia awards contracts to 12 SMEs under ICERA initiative

The Australian Government has awarded up to $3.6m in contracts to 12 small to medium-sized enterprises as part of the country’s industry engagement initiative, known as the Industry Competitive Evaluation Research Agreement. Awards under the initiative are funded via defence’s Next Generation Technologies Fund, which will provide $36m over six years. The companies receiving funding are Breakaway Consulting, InfoSect, Insight Via Artificial Intelligence, Jaywick Group, Mentum Systems, Spinlock Security, Critus, Quantitative, Biosensis, Fivecast, Safran Electronics & Defence Australasia and Cryoclock.


US Navy plans to use UAS for cargo transport

The US Navy is assessing the feasibility of using uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) for cargo transport between vessels or from ship to shore. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division has acquired a logistics UAS prototype to demonstrate the transfer of cargo over long ranges. The vehicle will be tested and upgraded for military sealift requirements.

Naval Group delivers first Suffren-class submarine to French Navy 

French shipbuilder Naval Group has delivered the first of six Suffren-class nuclear attack submarines for the French Navy. This delivery marks an important milestone in the Barracuda programme, which upgrades the submarine component of France's nuclear deterrent.

Iran unveils domestic ballistic missile launcher

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has reportedly unveiled a domestically built ballistic missile launching system. Tasnim news agency reported that the air force manufactured thdine automated system, which is used for launching long-range ballistic missiles.


Australian Navy tests robots for counter-disaster operation

The Royal Australian Navy has tested robots in a simulated counter-disaster operation. As part of exercise Autonomous Warrior Genesis, the navy tested uncrewed land, air and sea vehicles in response to a simulated humanitarian relief scenario.

US and Japan complete exercise Keen Sword 21 

US Indo-Pacific Command units and the Japan Self-Defense Force have completed exercise Keen Sword 21, a joint-bilateral field training exercise in Japan. It involved maritime and air operations, amphibious landings, missile defence exercises, resupply, cyber and space operations.

Royal Air Force concludes Exercise Crimson Warrior 

The Royal Air Force has concluded Exercise Crimson Warrior, a three-week training operation involving fast jets, helicopters and unmanned air systems with involvement from the British Army, US Air Force and US Marines. Exercise Crimson Warrior has been adapted from Cobra Warrior with missiodinns being added to support the F-35B and helicopters that form part of the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing.

In brief

Fabri-Kal launches Recycleware Containers to expand sustainability

Food packaging solutions provider Fabri-Kal has expanded its sustainable product offerings with the launch of its new Recycleware Containers. Manufactured in the US, the products contain a minimum of 20-50% post-consumer recycled PET material and are recyclable.

Burger King and TerraCycle’s Loop to pilot new reusable packaging 

Fast-food chain Burger King has partnered with TerraCycle’s circular packaging service, Loop, to pilot new reusable packaging. The partnership is part of the brand’s Restaurant Brands for Good framework to help reduce packaging waste.

Stora Enso launches take-away bowls for food service packaging 

Pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso has partnered with wholesale company Tingstad to market its new food service take-away bowls, PureFiber. The packaging is designed to replace plastic on-the-go food packaging. It is free from plastic and PFAS.

H&M presents new Looop garment-to-garment recycling system

Swedish clothing-retail company H&M is introducing a garment-to-garment recycling system that helps transform old textiles into new ones. Known as Looop, the container-sized machine promotes circularity in fashion and keeps unwanted garments from turning into waste.