Thales Air Defence Limited, formerly Shorts Missile Systems, is a defence contractor based in Belfast, Northern Ireland producing short-range or close air defence missiles. The company has a turnover of approximately £70m and pre-tax profits of £7m.
Shorts Missile Systems (SMS) was established as a joint venture between Shorts' owners Bombardier and Thomson-CSF in 1993. In 2000 Thomson-CSF bought Bombardier's 50% share to become the sole owner. In the same year Thomson-CSF went through a series of mergers and acquisitions to become the Thales Group, consequently in 2001 Shorts Missile Systems was renamed Thales Air Defence Limited (TADL).
The then Shorts Missile Systems was a partner in Raytheon's Future Medium Range Air-Air Missile (FMRAAM) project, which was to replace the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile used by European air forces. In May 2000 the UK selected the MBDA Meteor to fulfil the requirement.
TADL products have been deployed by 56 armed forces around the world. The company employs around 510 people based in Belfast and Paris. The company also operates a remote facility in rural County Down, between Ballynahinch and Downpatrick where missiles are tested and stored.
Built by Thales under licence from the United States for the Ministry of Defence. Hellfire is designed to defeat tanks and other individual targets while minimizing the exposure of the launch vehicle to enemy fire.