FLOTATION on the stock exchange, a new contract for support of network-centric anti-aircraft defences, and the first car to appear in a Farnborough air display - QinetiQ has come a long way since it started life a century ago as the government-owned Royal Aircraft Establishment.

The Farnborough-based British technology company comes to the show ready to promote itself aggressively to potential investors while demonstrating its expertise in defence technologies.

Following chief executive Sir John Chisholm's recent revelation that the company was bettering the financial results need to trigger the planned flotation, the QinetiQ team here is pulling out all the stops to attract stock market attention.

There can be few better ways of doing that than leading out the first air-display performer with a high-performance racing car.

QinetiQ sponsors Team Jota, which competes in the FIA Sportscar Championship with cars incorporating QinetiQ technologies. One of its cars will be the first piece of heavy metal out on the runway today.

QinetiQ has two shop windows at Farnborough 2004: Stand A19 in Hall 1, covering aviation security and defence technologies, and the company-sponsored Space Pavilion. It is also planning to make a number of announcements tomorrow during a briefing at its chalet, located next to the media centre.

The company's security and safety offerings include the BorderWatch vehicle-scanning system; Tarsier for runway debris detection and the creation of ground security screens for VIP aircraft; and a passenger screening portal capable of detecting non-metallic weapons. All three are based on millimetre-wave radar technology.

QinetiQ's defence activities are designed to yield improved effectiveness at every stage in the sensor-to-shooter chain, from detecting a target to delivering a weapon.

Making its world debut is Zephyr, QinetiQ's high-altitude UAV, which is designed to observe areas of conflict or disaster and provide communications quickly and at reduced cost. Also on show are the CueSim simulators, networked to QinetiQ's advanced mission trainer, and the AGILE mission-planning tool.

On the eve of the show the company announced that it had won a multi-million-pound contract to provide a synthetic environment in support of the UK Ministry of Defence's Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) project.

GBAD will integrate the existing HVM (High-Velocity Missile) and Rapier weapons into an air-defence command, control, communication, computing and intelligence system.

QinetiQ will design, develop and deliver a synthetic environment that includes a range of future battlefield scenarios in which the two competing GBAD solutions will be assessed.

At the Space Pavilion, visitors will find details of QinetiQ's work on ESA's Gravity Field and Steady State Ocean Circulation (GOCE) mission, due to lift off next year; Bepi Colombo, which will explore Mercury early next decade; and tiny probes designed to be dropped into the Venusian atmosphere.


Source: Flight Daily News