Through its acquisition of Kelvin Hughes, HENSOLDT can boast a UK pedigree stretching back over a century, and has firmly established itself as a key supplier to the UK Ministry of Defence, and specifically the Royal Navy, since the 1960s. This established relationship with the UK government has positioned the company well to provide best-in-class solutions to the UK customer, and HENSOLDT UK has ambitious growth plans to solidify this footprint further.
Internationalisation is at the heart of HENSOLDT, and while its headquarters is in Germany, countries including France, South Africa and the UK are very much considered to be home markets for the defence and security company.
To this end, HENSOLDT has pledged to its shareholders that two thirds of revenue will come from markets outside of Germany by 2030, and it is ambitious promises such as this that make it firmly stand out as an internationally-minded business.
HENSOLDT is proud to serve each of its home nations, and best-in-class technology forms the foundation of delivering to each one. However, the company also recognises that each market has different requirements, and that the interests of each one needs to be considered when globalising the business.
Aligning with government policies in each country is key to this, as well as understanding what the customer requires so that HENSOLDT can effectively deliver solutions that are truly needed in the most suitable way. The UK is a prime example of this, and in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic era, ensuring both the sovereignty of the UK’s defence and security as well as its prosperity is at the heart of the government agenda.
The 2021 Integrated Review – refreshed in 2023 – is an overarching security policy that includes a number of sub-strategies including the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy. This emphasises that while delivering best-in-class equipment to the UK armed forces is clearly the primary aim of the government, supply chain considerations such as maintaining onshore production and support capabilities is also a key strategic interest of the UK.
The Defence and Security Industrial Strategy also calls for continued investment in the UK industrial base, which is expected to lead to more prosperity for the UK. There is a drive to ensure that not only jobs, but highly skilled jobs are produced in the UK, driving economic growth.
Moreover, there is a strategic benefit to this approach. Military equipment has a long service life, so systems need to be maintained throughout their lifecycles. Domestic support arrangements will ensure that the UK has control over its equipment portfolio and can guarantee readiness in times of conflict, as the UK armed forces rely less on overseas suppliers.
While there is a strong appetite at government level to maintain this sovereign industrial capability, it has to be supported and delivered by industry. HENSOLDT UK already has plans in place to be able to expand its production output, utilising its existing UK-based facilities that are set up for growth.
The division’s UK headquarters is in Enfield, to the north of London, and was designed for growth from the offset. The Enfield site is based on a modular design, so can expand to meet new requirements, and every workstation is on wheels and all cables are overhead for flexibility. There is therefore plenty of space for growing the manufacturing space and support, as well as office space.
Additionally, HENSOLDT Avionics UK, based in Slinfold, West Sussex, has great potential to be utilised further to support growth in the UK market.
“We are planning on taking our existing resources that are well placed to support our legacy business and investing in skills to enhance and augment those teams to bring in capability from around the group”
Business Development Director for the UK & Ireland
“We are looking at expanding engineering and the supply chain in key areas to support our growth plans, and we can do that quite easily within the existing site in Enfield, which was designed with growth in mind from the outset,” he adds. With such ambitious growth plans, HENSOLDT is looking at many avenues that will facilitate this growth.
The strategy includes localisation, local manufacturing of selected offerings, and local technical support in country. It also focuses on near-term opportunities first and sets up support for these, while simultaneously planning for the next phase of growth and development in this important market.
Detect and protect: The tech
In addition to being well placed industrially, HENSOLDT UK can also deliver key strategic capabilities to the armed forces that will offer a decisive edge for the nation’s defence and security.
Naval capabilities are probably what HENSOLDT UK is most known for, which heralds back to its Kelvin Hughes legacy. HENSOLDT remains a key partner of the Royal Navy, and is now using that legacy to offer additional capability from around the group to build on that expertise and offer next-generation naval capabilities to the UK customer.
The company also supplies IFF Mode 5 to the navy, which is a critical identification system, and HENSOLDT is well placed to deliver game-changing airborne ISR capabilities in support of the UK’s border control needs. HENSOLDT’s AESA radar technologies are market-leading, and would be a valuable asset for saving lives at sea for the island nation.
In the land domain, HENSOLDT’s SETAS is a see-through armour observation solution that truly disrupts the way in which situational awareness is provided. It delivers a 360-degree field of view that does not endanger onboard personnel that would typically have to look through a vehicle hatch to gain the same perspective.
Artificial intelligence is a key element of SETAS, and this technology is proudly delivered from the UK by British engineers. Furthermore, the UK supply chain could be further exploited to deliver the majority of the capability to the UK MoD, which would make it a British solution.
Ground-based air defence is also a key capability for the HENSOLDT group, and the company is proud to be delivering the TRML-4D radar system to the German government that is being provided to Ukraine to strengthen its air defences.
Combat proven through its use in the ongoing conflict, the sophisticated radar system provides early warning and small target tracking, and these tracking coordinates then feed into Ukraine’s national air surveillance system.
This system is helping save lives on a daily basis in Ukraine, but it also has applications elsewhere, and the radar system could be delivered from the UK in support of the domestic customer.
HENSOLDT also develops innovative passive air defence sensors such as Twinvis, a system that utilises radio and TV signals to detect targets without transmitting anything at all, which makes it invisible to the enemy and also lends its itself to environments that make traditional active radar difficult to use.
HENSOLDT UK – a British sensor house
In summary, there are a wide variety of opportunities in the UK market, and HENSOLDT is well placed to deliver British-made systems that align with the UK MoD’s desire for sovereign capabilities and domestic industrial investment.
This can be achieved using HENSOLDT’s existing footprint and substantial experience in the UK market, as well as its strategic plan to facilitate the delivery of disruptive capabilities to the armed forces across all domains.
“Leveraging the UK resources that we have and our plans to grow, we will target opportunities in any of those domains, and we will go after them on a case-by-case basis,” Dearlove added.
“We believe these are best-in-class, life-saving capabilities that would substantially benefit the UK user on the ground, in the air and at sea, and that is why we are bringing them to the UK. We feel we can offer true value to the UK MoD.”
Business Development Director for the UK & Ireland