Cobham and Meggitt have created Integrated Target Services (ITS) to provide airborne targeting services. ITS combines the towing and operational capabilities of Cobham's FRAviation (FRA) and Meggitt Defence Systems's target manufacture.

Terry Timms, Meggitt Defence Services managing director, says the pair will continue to operate in their own areas of expertise but ITS will focus on integrated service opportunities such as the UK's Combined Aerial Target Services (CATS) programme, which includes a number of different target types.

The UK Ministry of Defence is scheduled to shortlist three CATS bidders in July, and Timms says if ITS is selected an office will be established. ITS will be a 50:50 joint venture with directors from the two parents. He says ITS will be allowed to propose any target it sees fit, not only the parent companies' equipment.

FRA operates business jets as target tugs and radar targets for training ground air-defence units and for fighter training. Meggitt produces the Banshee autonomous target, a range of towed targets and the associated winches as well as countermeasures simulation pods.

Meggitt recently launched the Banshee 500 target with a 35kW (50hp) engine in place of a 20kW unit, making it faster with a bigger 20kg (45lb) payload capability.

At last week's IDEX defence show in Abu Dhabi, Meggitt unveiled a camera nose for the Banshee, which has been delivered to the Pakistan army.

Meanwhile, the Banshee 400 has entered service with the Malaysian artillery, and Abu Dhabi is due to start training next month. It is also being evaluated in Oman.

Cobham has reported pre-tax profits of £89 million ($127million) for last year, up 28%, with group turnover rising more than 30% to £568 million. Its manufacturing division (including Flight Refuelling and missile actuation systems specialist Carleton) contributed 46% of sales and over half of operating profits of £97 million. Avionics contributed 29% of sales and 35% of operating profits; flight operations 25% and 15% respectively. Meggit's pre-tax profits rose 43% to £72.5 million, with sales up 11% to £386 million, £281 million from its aerospace division (up 37%), boosted by acquisitions including that of Whittaker. Aerospace operating profits were £69.4 million before goodwill, up 69%.

Source: Flight International