ADS, the UK's aerospace, defence, security and space industry association (H1/B12a and B15), is using Farnborough air show as a platform to call on the UK government to maintain support for the sectors it represents.
Marcus Bryson, chief executive aerospace and land systems at GKN Aerospace and ADS aerospace sector vice president, argues that the time has come to stop grumbling from the sidelines about the relationship between the UK industry and government, and do something about it. The UK supply chain is the weak link in what is arguably the country's most important export industry - and one in which the country ranks second only to the USA, he says.
"The big boys can look after themselves," says Bryson, of major companies such as his own, BAE Systems, Bombardier or Rolls-Royce. But he warns, that smaller companies do not have the technical, managerial or financial skills to beat off competition from overseas rivals.
Bryson's concern is that unless the UK's small- to medium-sized suppliers develop the skills to become involved earlier in the product development process, they risk losing opportunities to foreign competitors that may be more able to work as design partners, rather than mere build-to-print contractors.
Bryson is delighted that the industry-government Aerospace Growth Partnership programme is starting to show results - in the form of a £60 million ($93 million) contribution from central government to create a UK Centre of Aerodynamics, pulling together existing testing and modelling facilities into a coherent virtual centre responsible for co-ordinating and supporting world-leading research and technology.
The money includes £10 million to upgrade facilities and £50 million to fund research.
The AGP, chaired by Bryson and business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk, is seen by ADS, Farnborough air show's owner and organiser, as an important channel for resources that will help both civil- and defence-oriented aerospace research.