Finmeccanica's recent acquisition for $5.2 billion of DRS Technologies, a leading supplier of integrated defence electronics products, services and support for the US armed forces and government agencies, strengthens the Italian aerospace giant's position in the global electronics defence market and opens new horizons.

Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, Finmeccanica chief executive,says the acquisition of New Jersey-based DRS helps to solidify the company's position as a top-tier international competitor and reinforces its commitment to the US market, its industrial base and, most importantly, its armed forces. The move establishes a strong transatlantic defence electronics capability.

The acquisition was anticipated by another important milestone in the government and industrial relationship between Italy and the USA: the signing of an updated reciprocal defence procurement memorandum of understanding. Under this agreement each government provides access to its defence market to the industry of the other country, with specific benefits on a reciprocal basis.

Selex Galileo HUD and HDDUs on board M346
 © Selex Galileo

Finmeccanica, which employs 60,000 people worldwide,already has a US presence with 2,100 employees at 32 sites. They include facilities and administrative offices for AgustaWestland and Alenia North America, which has established Alenia Defence. Other companies focused on defence and government electronics include Elsag Datamat,Selex Communications, Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems and Selex Sistemi Integrati.

The Italian giant has also established partnerships with US aerospace players, including onebetween its subsidiary AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin for the VH-71 Presidential helicopter programme, one with Boeing for the 787 and one with L-3 Communications for the Alenia C-27J tactical transport aircraft.


The acquisition of DRS Technologies will open new opportunities, both for "legacy" Finmeccanica companies and for the new DRS Technologies, in US and international markets. Finmeccanica defence and security electronics and systems companies provided €3.82 billion ($4.76 billion) or 28.5% of the group revenues in 2007.

To cope with new international challenges, Finmeccanica is developing local joint ventures. Rome-based radar specialist Selex Sistemi Integrati also offers a range of surveillance products for homeland security and has recently agreed deals with Algeria for a border surveillance network and with Yemen for a maritime surveillance control system. The company is the large systems integrator team leader for Finmeccanica companies, providing network-centric warfare environment integration and, in the civil market, airport systems, for which it has won contracts in India and Qatar. It offers systems and sensors for air traffic management and airport infrastructures.

In the radar domain, Selex Sistemi Integrati offers a range of land and maritime systems such as the new Lyra family of small X-band portable radars for border or facilities protection, as well as the long-range air-surveillance land-based RAT-31 DL/M or naval-based RAN-40L, the multifunction phased array Empar and new C-band active phased array Kronos family, which has land and naval applications.

The RAT-31 DL/M has been acquired by NATO countries and other international customers, while the Kronos family is expected to revolutionise the multi-role tactical radar market. For the 2010 fiscal year Selex Sistemi Integrati is targeting revenues of €1.3 billion and an operating margin of 10% and is looking to expand abroad, in the Middle East and Africa as well as the rest of Europe.


In the UK, Selex Galileo offers products ranging from radar to avionics, including airborne self-protection and electro-optical equipment for land, air and naval applications, as well as unmanned air systems and surveillance systems. The company leads the sensors consortia (Captor and Pirate) and the Defensive Aid Suite (recently rebranded Praethorian) for the now six-nation Eurofighter Typhoon.

F-35B STOVL version during trials
 © Luca Peruzzi

Production of next-generation electro-optical equipment and laser technology for the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter international programme forms a key part of Selex Galileo's airborne activities, with electronics and radar equipment produced across the UK and Italy, in Edinburgh, Luton, Milan, Turin and Pomezia. The latter company also provides the mission core system for Aermacchi's M-346 advanced and lead-in-fighter trainer, which is expected to be acquired for 15 aircraft by the Italian air force and is being considered by the United Arab Emirates.

Selex Galileo avionics are also core to Agusta­Westland AW101 and NH Industries NH90 programmes. The radar portfolio ranges from the recently launched low-cost/high-performance pulse-Doppler Gabbiano surveillance radar to the combat radar Grifo - undergoing flight trials for rotary-wing applications with an Asian customer - to the family of UK-developed E-Scan Seaspray radar, in use with the US Coastguard, and the PicoSAR, developed for unmanned platforms.

The ATOS command and control system for surveillance applications has been selected by Ecuador, Libya and Nigeria.The Australian Coastwatch agency has chosen it for its airborne sea surveillance fixed- and rotary-wing platforms and integrated it within a land-based command and control system.

The new, compact four-sensor EOST 46 electro-optical system has been selected by AgustaWestland as the basic equipment for its families of light and medium helicopters, while Sigma multispectral family sensors are being miniaturised for unmanned platform applications.


Selex Galileo's Falco unmanned air system, already in service with the Pakistan air force, is being upgraded with the Falco Battlelab management and operational analysis tool, while on the naval side, the company provides the SPN-720 air traffic control and landing aids system for Italian and UK aircraft carriers and the panoramic electro-optical/infrared surveillance system for a new-generation frigate.

 © Selex Galileo

With its domestic expansion and a new focus on North American, Middle Eastern and Asian markets, Selex Galileo has a revenue target for FY2010 of €2.2 billion.

Leading Finmeccanica's communications and network-centric warfare carrier initiatives,Selex Communications also provides navigation subsystems as well as human machine interfaces, lighting systems and air traffic control equipment. Its range of communications products covers air, ground and naval applications, and includes the Tetra land-based communications network. To better address future market challenges it is developing a family of software-defined radios for air, ground and naval applications as well as internet protocol-based equipment and a new-generation Tetra ground communication network.

Selex Communications is a leader among identification-friend-or-foe subsystem providers, having developed and tested the interoperability with US products of new-generation equipment with new secure military Mode 5 and civil Mode S transponders. The Finmeccanica company is also developing a new-generation, high-performance Ku-band wideband datalink, compliant with the NATO STANAG 7085 standard, which has been conceived for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAV applications.

In navigation subsystems, the company's LOAM obstacle warning system has been tested for integration on board the NH90 TTH for an Italian army requirement, after being selected by Denmark for its AW101 and being offered for the US presidential programme.

Sirio Panel, a subsidiary of Selex Communications, is now involved in major Italian and international programmes including the JSF, Typhoon, C-27J and Airbus A350 XWB, providing cockpit illumination systems, control panels and pilot/system interfaces. Selex Communications revenues are expected to grow to €1.1 billion in 2010, while operating margins will be around 12%.

Completing Finmeccanica's panorama of electronic defence companies is Elsag Datamat, which as well as homeland security and civil products, is participating in the JSF support programme. Elsag Datamat provides military mission planning systems for the NH90 and fixed-wing aircraft.

It is also developing software with military maritime applications for the main navy aircraft carrier.

Source: Flight International