Chris Jasper/LONDON

Thales and Raytheon have won Pentagon approval for their new Thales Raytheon Systems ground-based air command, control and communications (C³) joint venture, with Europe due to back the pioneering deal "within weeks", says Thales president Denis Ranque. The 50:50 venture will have 1,300 staff and sales of €600 million ($530 million), and, says Thales, will form a blueprint for future US deals.

"We want to see how it works," says Ranque. "The main benefit is that while many US defence companies have been bought by foreign industry, specifically the UK, when you are in a sensitive area you need to organise a company in a sensitive manner - and then you don't always have the synergies." He adds: "We want to spend money where the synergies are available, and this is a true join venture with no special security arrangement."

Thales Raytheon Systems has its origins in an earlier joint venture, Air Command Systems Inter-national, formed to bid for initial contracts on NATO's Air Command and Control System (ACCS) programme. The future development of ACCS, which seeks to fully revamp NATO's air command and control infrastructure, will form the mainstay of the new joint venture's business.

Thales (formerly Thomson-CSF) saw operating profits rise to €390 million last year, up 44%, on turnover up 25% to c6.89 billion, swelled by six months of sales from Racal, which it bought. Its defence unit contributed 57% of sales and (mainly civil) aerospace 18%.

Source: Flight International