Cobham plc

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Cobham plc
Traded as LSECOB
Industry Aerospace & Defence
Founded 1934
Headquarters Wimborne Minster, England, UK
Key people
John Devaney, Chairman
Bob Murphy, CEO
Revenue £1,789.7 million (2013)[1]
£158.8 million (2013)[1]
£114.5 million (2013)[1]
Slogan "The most important thing we build is trust."

Cobham plc is a British manufacturing company based in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. According to Defense News it is the 51st largest defense firm in world, and 5th largest in the UK, based on 2013 revenue.[2]


Cobham was founded as Flight Refuelling Limited (FRL) at RAF Ford in Sussex by Sir Alan Cobham in 1934.[citation needed] It moved to Tarrant Rushton in Dorset in 1947.[3] It became the first contractor to join the Berlin airlift in 1948[citation needed] and developed the 'probe and drogue' method of air-to-air refuelling in 1949.[citation needed]

In the 1970s FRL transferred its aerial operations to Hurn Airport.[citation needed] In September 1997 it acquired ML Aviation for £37 million, which had taken over Nash & Thompson, a major competitor, the previous year.[4]

In early 2008 Cobham purchased S-TEC Corporation, maker of general aviation autopilots for $38 million,[5] and in February 2008 Cobham bought the sensor and antenna systems division of BAE Systems for $240 million.[6] Then in June 2008 Cobham acquired Sparta Inc., a US defence business, for $416 million (it was renamed Cobham Analytic Solutions).[7] In September 2008 Cobham completed the purchase of the radio frequency components business of M/A-COM for $425 million.[8]

In April 2009 Cobham agreed to purchase Argotek Inc., a provider of high-end information assurance services to the United States Intelligence Community, for $36 million.[9] Then in June 2009 a Cobham – Northrop Grumman 50–50 joint venture won the US Army's US$2.4 billion competition to supply Vehicular Intercom Systems.[10]

In October 2011 Cobham Analytic Solutions was sold for $350 million to the privately owned Parsons Corporation.[11]

In June 2012 Cobham acquired Danish satellite communications company Thrane & Thrane A/S, making it the core of Cobham's new SATCOM strategic business unit (SBU), to include SeaTel marine, TracStar land and Omnipless airborne SATCOM product lines.[12]

Then in May 2013 Cobham acquired antenna systems business, Axell Wireless.[13] In July 2013 Cobham bought out FB Heliservices joint venture partner Bristow Helicopters.[14]

In April 2014, Cobham sold Chelton Flight Systems and S-TEC Corporation to Genesys Aerosystems.[15][16]

In May 2014, Cobham acquired wireless communications company, Aeroflex Holding Corporation for $1.46 billion.[17]


Cobham is organised into three technology divisions: Mission Systems, Defence Systems, Aerospace and Surveillance. The former Aviation Services division is now a strategic business unit (SBU) within Cobham Mission Systems.

The Cobham Mission Systems Division claims to be the world market leader in aerial refuelling,[18] and provides a comprehensive range of weapons carriage and release equipment. Cobham Mission Systems also specialises in life support and personal survival equipment for aviators and astronauts.

The Cobham Defence Systems Division specialises in radar, communication and electronic warfare systems, and claims to be the world leader in advanced tactical military vehicle intercom systems.[19]

The Cobham Aerospace and Security Division provides a range of electronic products for airborne, marine and land applications. Included in the product base are fully certified Electronic Flight Instrument Systems (EFIS), air and land Search and Rescue devices, and state of the art surveillance equipment.

The Cobham Aviation Services SBU operates more than 150 fixed and rotary wing aircraft around the world. It specialises in the conversion and support of a wide range of civil and military aircraft, and through an FB Heliservices consortium with Bristow Helicopters at the UK's Defence Helicopter Flying School trains all UK helicopter pilots for the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army.[20]


Carleton Life Support was founded in 1951 by Bendix Aviation. Its headquarters is at Davenport, Iowa. It is now part of Cobham plc's Life Support Division. It makes or made:

The company produces the Guardian ST820, a battery-operated tracing device used by the American FBI. The device is secured under a car by a strong magnet. It is only available to law enforcement agencies.[21] Due to these systems being clandestine, the company maintains a restricted access web site to discuss them.[22]

Queen's Awards for Enterprise[edit]

  • 2009: Cobham Surveillance, based in Segensworth, Hampshire, England, received a Queen's Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category. The business – formerly known as Domo Ltd – tripled its export sales in three years.[23]
  • 2010: Cobham Surveillance, based in Segensworth, Hampshire, received a Queen's Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category. The award was for the development of its Solo4 wireless digital audio and video link technology that improves safety for bomb disposal teams and law enforcement personnel by increasing the range at which they can effectively operate their robotic bomb disposal equipment.[24]
  • 2010: Cobham Antenna Systems, based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, received a Queen's Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category. The business – formerly known as Chelton Ltd – continuously increased export revenues over six years and sells over 80% of its production overseas.[24]

Sports club[edit]

The company created Cobham Sports and Social Club, a members' club in Merley, near the main manufacturing site in Wimborne, Dorset, which is used as the ground for Merley Cobham Sports F.C.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results". Cobham investors. 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Tarrant Rushton - The Secret Airfield". Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Aero History". Comcast.  |chapter= ignored (help).
  5. ^ Flying Magazine: 24. Feb 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Cobham buys BAE Systems Division". The Engineer. UK. 25 February 2008. 
  7. ^ "Cobham to purchase Sparta for $416m". RF Globalnet. 16 January 2008. 
  8. ^ "Tyco Electronics Announces Agreement to Sell Its RF Components and Subsystem Business To Cobham Plc" (press release). Tyco. 13 May 2008. 
  9. ^ "Cobham Reaches Agreement To Acquire US National Security Company For US$36.25 Million" (PDF) (press release). Cobham. 6 Apr 2009. 
  10. ^ "US Army Selects Northrop Grumman, Cobham Team To Provide VIS-X Vehicular Intercom Systems" (PDF) (news release). Cobham. 29 June 2009. 
  11. ^ "Cobham agrees divestment of Analytic Solutions business for US$350M" (press release). Cobham. 
  12. ^ "Cobham ups bid to secure Thrane & Thrane". The Telegraph. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Cobham buys DAS provider Axell Wireless". RCR Wireless. 21 May 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Cobham pays £50m to take control of helicopter firm that trained princes". The Telegraph. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Cobham Sells S-Tec and Chelton Flight Systems
  17. ^ "Cobham Acquires Wireless Communications Company for $1.46 Billion". New York Times. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "About". Cobham.  |chapter= ignored (help).
  19. ^ "Cobham Awarded US$40m Contract for Digital Vehicle Intercom Systems" (PDF) (press release). .
  20. ^ "FB Heliservices". .
  21. ^ Warrantless and Unwarranted FBI Tracking of Egyptian Student, 13 October 2010, Security Generation
  22. ^ Company's web site, accessed 11 July 2014,,-tracking,-locate-and-intercept/products-and-services/gps-tracking-systems/st-range.aspx
  23. ^ "Cobham’s export sales growth recognised with Queen’s award" (PDF) (press release). Cobham. .
  24. ^ a b "Cobham Businesses Honoured in Queen’s Awards for Enterprise" (PDF) (press release). Cobham. .
  25. ^ Dorset Premier League

External links[edit]