BAe Systems: Products/Projects

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As befits a ‘truly global’ company, BAe Systems covers a wide range of products and projects. Few of them, however, are anything that the ordinary consumer would ever buy. BAE products are mostly intended for the defence procurement of nation states, and to a lesser extent, the huge budgets of airlines such as British Airways.

BAE undertakes both large, capital-intensive projects such as the manufacture of the ‘Future Carrier’ (intended to replace Britain’s current ‘Invincible’ class of aircraft carrier) and smaller-scale, more intricate work - such as the development and manufacture of thermal imaging and radar equipment. Undoubtedly, however, and despite the rather beguiling ‘civilian applications’ section on their website, the majority of their production goes directly into military applications.

The Avionics department of BAE deals with the more intricate and small-scale projects, covering areas such as radar, weapon guidance systems, satellite communications technology, thermal imaging, and electronic warfare. All of these smaller products come into use in BAE’s own range of military vehicles.[1]


BAE manufactures a wide range of military aircraft, from the now completed lines of Tornado and Harrier, to the Hawk attack fighter and the joint European project Eurofighter. Other aircraft projects include the Gripen fighter (produced in collaboration with SAAB) and the American Joint Strike Fighter, also known as F-35 Lightning II. As well as having huge potential in the American market, one of the variants of the JSF is tipped to be the British Ministry of Defence replacement for the outdated Harrier jump jet. [2]


On the sea, BAE is a member of the 'Carrier Alliance' and will play a leading role in the ‘Future Carriers’ programme (HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are due to enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively) [3], and firm acceptance of its Type 45 Anti-Air Destroyers (the first of which, HMS Daring, will be operational in 2009) [4]. It also has a virtual monopoly on Royal Navy shipping contracts.


In ground warfare BAE has less of a presence, concentrating its capital intensive projects where they can benefit its manufacturing concerns (i.e. its shipyards). It is working on several projects for land based military application, however, including the Lancer recon vehicle, the description of which provides a prime example of BAE’s corporate-speak. As they put it; "'Consequently, all the key functional areas of the LANCER fully integrated demonstrator vehicle feature the latest, de-risked emerging technologies applicable to future land systems environment solutions:....A highly lethal 40mm calibre weapon using unique cased telescoped ammunition and advanced fire control’".[5]

Civilian Projects

BAE does have some civilian projects, almost all of which are concerned with avionics. Its Avro RJ jet is no longer manufactured but is still in use by over 60 airlines. These include British Airways and Lufthansa. Its replacement, the Avro RJX, is likely to be similarly popular. BAE is also involved in the Airbus Industrie consortium with European partners, largely in manufacturing the wings for Airbus jets. Airbus is one of only two manufacturers in the market for commercial aircraft seating more than 100 passengers. Airbus captures around 50% of all commercial airline orders. Airbus is owned by BAE SYSTEMS and EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), holding 20% and 80% respectively.[6] In September 2006, BAE Systems sold its 20% stake in Airbus, as BAE sees its future as a military manufacturer. [7]

Homeland Security

BAE also has products dedicated to 'Delivering effective, custom built, innovative solutions to address the full range of Homeland Security issues'.[8]


  1. ^ BAE SYSTEMS Facts, Business Units, BAE SYSTEMS website:, accessed 20/3/07
  2. ^ BAE Systems, "F-35 Lightning II",
  3. ^ Royal Navy, "Future Aircraft Carrier",
  4. ^ BAE Systems, "Type 45 Destroyer",
  5. ^ 'LANCER', BAE SYSTEMS website:, accessed 20/3/07
  6. ^'International Partnership - Airbus (BAE SYSTEMS 20%)', BAE website:, accessed 27 April 2002
  7. ^ BBC, "BAE's Airbus sale marks end of an era", 7 Sep 2006, Robert Peston,
  8. ^ BAE SYSTEMS Capabilities, BAE Systems Website:, accessed 20/3/07