BAE and Thales plot course for smaller warships to fight pirates



BAE Systems and Thales are among defense companies increasing their focus on patrol vessels to drive naval sales as countries from Libya to Brazil modernize and expand their fleets.

The market for offshore patrol vessels in the next 10 to 15 years is estimated at 14 billion pounds ($22.4 billion), said Ian Leach, a business development executive for BAE's naval ships business. About 15 percent of that market will be up for competition, he said.

Growing concerns about piracy and protecting offshore areas of economic interest have increased demand for patrol ships in the 90-meter-long class that can go out to about 200 nautical miles. The lower price of such vessels compared with larger warships has made this sector among the fastest-growing for navy equipment providers.

"There is major growth in the market for offshore patrol vessels," Thales Chief Executive Officer Luc Vigneron said Tuesday during the Euronaval warship exhibition outside Paris. "We are going towards lighter, less complex, less expensive equipment because the overall trend on surface ships is to lighter, smaller and less expensive ships."

Thales owns 35 percent of French shipyard owner DCNS. That stake accounts for 20 percent of Thales's naval sales. The remaining 80 percent comes from offerings other than ship- building, such as radar. Maritime sales will increase as a percentage of defense revenue within Thales, Vigneron said.

Among the emerging customers for offshore patrol vessels is Libya. The government is starting to plan its fleet replacement after a civil war last year and BAE sees the country as a potential customer, Leach said.

BAE has focused on fixing parts of its naval business and has avoided chasing new contracts after development problems on projects such as the building of offshore patrol vessels for Oman. This phase is nearing an end and the delivery of three ships to Oman is scheduled to start next year.

This month, BAE delivered the first of three similarly sized ships to Brazil. These were resold after the original customer, Trinidad and Tobago, didn't take delivery. The second handover is due this year, and by the end of next year BAE wants to focus on booking orders again for new customers, Leach said.

To help win contracts in the smaller-ship market, Lockheed Martin has spent several years developing an unclassified version of the combat management systems used on the U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship, said Douglas Wilhelm, director of international programs for the company's Mission Systems & Sensors unit. The technology, which links sensors and weapons, will be offered to shipyards pursuing patrol vessel deals.

Although demand in emerging markets is particularly strong for smaller vessels, one of the largest programs will be in the U.S., where the Coast Guard last month requested proposals for the first 11 of 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters. The program cost could exceed $8 billion and production could stretch until 2033 if all 25 ships are built.

DCNS will be among the companies competing for the contract, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Boissier said in an interview.

"The U.S. market is huge and a stable one, but if you want to pursue it you have to be American," he said. In the absence of its own U.S. operation, DCNS has teamed with Pascagoula, Miss.-based VT Halter Marine to make a bid.

Demand for patrol vessels is attracting more suppliers. Seoul-based Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, for instance, is trying to enter the export market, said a company official, who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak to the press.

While worries about piracy are increasing demand for smaller ships, concerns about ballistic missiles are helping sustain sales of new, larger vessels and are driving upgrades to existing ones.

"Ballistic missile defense is a major demand driver right now," Lockheed's Wilhelm said. The company provides the Aegis weapons system used by the U.S. Navy shoot down ballistic missiles with Raytheon Standard Missile 3 interceptors.

Turkey, Brazil and Canada are among countries that have said they are looking for new frigates with air-defense and potential missile-interception capabilities.

The Netherlands is exploring an upgrade of the Thales radar on its frigates so they can use the Raytheon interceptor, which carries an upper-stage, or kill vehicle, which collides with the target to destroy a long-range missile's warhead outside the atmosphere.

A ground demonstration to link the radar and interceptor is due before the end of the year, Daniel Lambert, a senior manager at Raytheon Missile Systems, said in an interview.

Interest in missile defense has prompted DCNS to offer an upgrade to its FREMM frigate, called FREMM-ER for "extended range." It features a new Thales radar to counter more modern threats, including short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, said Gilles Langlois, the shipmaker's product development director for surface ships.

BAE is also keeping an eye on the larger ship market as it continues to look for partners for its Type 26 Global Combat Ship now in detailed design for the Royal Navy. Canada, Brazil and Australia are among potential buyers, Leach said.

The ship is being designed to meet some high-end requirements for Britain and such features could be removed to make the vessel cheaper for other customers, Leach said.

"India, Brazil and other want to have all the attributes of global powers and that makes the naval business a fast- growing market," DCNS's Boissier said.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone