Sensors, information management and systems integration business Selex ES is making its Paris debut following the amalgamation in January of Finmeccanica's SELEX divisions - Galileo, Systems Integration and Elsag - as part of a major restructuring designed to restore the parent group's battered fortunes.

Chief executive Fabrizio Giulianini says final details of the reorganisation are still being worked out but adds that Selex ES can be counted as one of the world's top 10 defence and security electronics specialists, with combined 2012 sales of €3.6 billion ($4.8 billion). The company employs 17,000 staff - 12,000 in Italy and 5,000 in the UK, its two home markets which represent half its sales - while supporting business in 27 countries.

DRS Technologies, its US-based counterpart bought by Finmeccanica in October 2008 for nearly $4.5 billion just before the financial crisis broke, trades separately, in part to maintain clarity between US and non-US operations.

The largest division in the new Selex ES is airborne and space systems, turning over €1.8 billion this year. Second, at €1 billion, is the land and naval unit, followed by security and smart systems.

In line with Finmeccanica's overall push to restore financial rigour to a group which suffered 2011 losses of €2.3 billion - its rail transport and energy divisions tanked and it was forced to write off €750 million against its involvement in Boeing's 787 programme, going on to lose another €786 million in 2012 - each division and divisional head is fully responsible for orders and profit and loss.

Broadly, says Giulianini, the plan at Selex ES is to "streamline, optimise and restructure". In practice, the big items on that agenda are to axe some duff programmes and consolidate physical locations.

In the UK, for example, Selex ES has inherited 16 sites from its legacy companies. That number will have to be cut and Giulianini says the plan includes combining four sites in Bristol to two, and consolidating three south coast sites into one at Southampton.

At Le Bourget, Selex ES is unveiling its Piaggio P180-based "Hammerhead" medium altitude long endurance unmanned system, featuring its integrated SkyISTAR mission system. The Hammerhead has been rolled out and completed its first engine start and runway taxi in Italy on 14 February. High-speed taxi trials are imminent, and the aircraft will make its first flight this year, says Giulianini.

Selex will also be highlighting its high-frequency radio capabilities, following selection by Bell Boeing to supply its SRT-200 HF radio communication systems to the V-22 Osprey.

One of the projects Selex is most proud of is the Le Bourget launch of the "mini maser" atomic clock, which it is developing for the next generation of Europe's Galileo navigation satellites. It hopes the unit will achieve the same frequency stability of the current-generation timekeeper but with reduced volume and mass, lower power consumption and improved environmental sensitivity.

Meanwhile, Selex is hopeful that the partner nations of the Eurofighter Typhoon programme - the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain - will commit to the fully electronic AESA radar for the aircraft during the first half of 2014.

That electronically scanning radar, self-funded by Selex, is fitted to aircraft IPA-5 at BAE Systems' Wharton, UK facility and is expected to fly for the first time in the first quarter of 2014.

Selex executive director of strategy Andrew Cowdery, who heads the Euroradar consortium behind the Typhoon AESA project, describes it as a "really important programme" for Selex, especially as it represents an opportunity to integrate a range of capabilities, including self-protection and infrared search and track.

And, he adds, Typhoon export prospects rely on offering an AESA unit. Export considerations alone would seem to dictate that the partner nations will give the "go" order to complete - and fund - development but, Giulianini notes, the project suffers from the exceptional quality of the mechanically scanning radar it would replace.

Source: Flight Daily News