British Aerospace plc
Fate Merged with Marconi Electronic Systems
Successor BAE Systems
Founded 29 April 1977
Defunct 30 November 1999
Headquarters Farnborough Airfield, England
Subsidiaries Rover Group (1988-1994)

British Aerospace (BAe) was a UK aircraft, munitions and defence-systems manufacturer. In 1999 it purchased Marconi Electronic Systems, the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc, to form BAE Systems.


<tr valign="top"><td colspan="2" align="left">Official text of the statute as amended and in force today within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database</td></tr>

The company was formed in the United Kingdom as a statutory corporation on 29 April 1977 as a result of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act. This called for the nationalisation and merger of the British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and Scottish Aviation. In 1979 BAe officially (re)joined Airbus, the UK having previously withdrawn support for the consortium in April 1969.

In accordance with the provisions of the British Aerospace Act 1980 the statutory corporation was changed to a Public limited company (plc), British Aerospace Public Limited Company, on 1 January 1981. On 4 February 1981 the government sold 51.57% of its shares. The British government sold its remaining shares in 1985, maintaining a £1 Golden Share which allows it veto foreign control of the board or company.[1]

On 26 September 1985, the UK and Saudi Arabian governments signed the Al Yamamah contract, with BAe as prime contractor. The contracts, extended in the 1990s and never fully detailed, involved the supply of Panavia Tornado strike and air defence aircraft, Hawk trainer jets, Rapier missile systems, infrastructure works and naval vessels. The Al Yamamah deals are valued at anything up to £20 billion and still continue to provide a large percentage of BAE Systems' profits. With Alenia Aeronautica, CASA and DASA, BAe formed Eurofighter GmbH in 1986 for the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon. On 22 April 1987 BAe acquired Royal Ordnance, the British armaments manufacturer, for £190 million. Heckler & Koch GmbH was folded into this division when BAe acquired it in 1991. In 1988 BAe purchased the Rover Group (an car manufacturer) which was being privatised by the British government.

In 1991 BAe acquired a 30% interest acquired in Hutchison Telecommunications and formed a naval systems joint venture, BAeSEMA, with the Sema Group. BAe acquired Sema's 50% share in 1998. 1991 also saw BAe begin to experience major difficulties. BAe saw its share price fall below 100p for the first time. On 9 September 1991, the company issued a profits warning and later that week "bungled" the launch of a £432 million rights issue.[2] On 25 September 1991 BAe directors led by CEO Richard Evans ousted the Chairman Professor Sir Roland Smith in a move described by The Independent as "one of the most spectacular and brutal boardroom coups witnessed in many years."[3] Evans described the troubles as a confluence of events:[4]

"our property company [Arlington Securities] was hit with a lousy market. Sales of the Rover Group sank by about a fifth and losses mounted. The government's defence spending volumes underwent a major review. Losses in our commercial aerospace division increased dramatically with the recession in the airline industry."

In 1992 BAe formed Avro RJ Regional Jets to produce the Avro RJ series, an evolution of the BAe 146. In mid-1992 BAe wrote off £1 billion of assets, largely as part of redundancies and restructuring of its regional aircraft division.[5] This was largest asset write-off in UK corporate history. It is interesting to note that The General Electric Company (GEC), later to sell its defence interests to BAe, came close to acquiring BAe at this time.[5] BAe cut 47% of its workforce (60,000 out of 127,000), 40,000 of which were from the regional aircraft division.

Evans decided to sell non-core businesses (these "non-core" activities included The Rover Group, Arlington Securities, BAe Corporate Jets, BAe Communications and Ballast Nedam Construction). Although the rationale of diversification was sound (to shield the company from cyclical aerospace and defence markets) the struggling company could not afford to continue the position: "We simply could not afford to carry two core businesses, cars and aerospace. At one point Rover was eating up about £2 billion of our banking capacity."[6] BAe Corporate Jets Ltd and Arkansas Aerospace Inc were sold to Raytheon in 1993. In 1994 the Rover Group was sold to BMW and British Aerospace Space Systems was sold to Matra Marconi Space. In 1998 BAe's shareholding of Orange plc was reduced to 5%. The Orange shareholding was a legacy of the 30% stake in Hutchison Telecommunications (UK) Ltd when Hutchison exchanged its own shares for a mobile phone company (Microtel Communications Ltd) from BAe.

BAeSEMA, Siemens Plessey and GEC-Marconi formed UKAMS Ltd in 1994 as part of the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) consortium. UKAMS would become a wholly owned subsidiary of BAe Dynamics in 1998. In 1995 Saab Military Aircraft and BAe signed an agreement for the joint development and marketing of the export version of the JAS 39 Gripen. In 1996 BAe and Matra Defense agreed to merge their missile businesses into a joint venture called Matra BAe Dynamics. In 1997 BAe joined the Lockheed Martin X-35 Joint Strike Fighter team. The company acquired the UK operations of Siemens Plessey Systems (SPS) in 1998 from Siemens AG. DASA purchased SPS' German assets.

Transition to BAE SystemsEdit

Defence consolidation became a major issue in 1998, with numerous reports linking various European defence groups — mainly with each other but also with American defence contractors. It was widely anticipated that BAe would merge with Germany’s DASA to form a pan-European aerospace giant. A merger deal was negotiated between Richard Evans and DASA CEO Jürgen Schrempp.[7] However when it became clear that GEC was selling its defence electronics business Marconi Electronic Systems, Evans put the DASA merger on hold in favour of purchasing Marconi. Evans stated that in 2004 that his fear was that an American defence contractor would acquire Marconi and challenge both BAe and DASA. Schrempp was angered by Evans' actions and chose instead to merge DASA with Aerospatiale to create the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). This group was later joined by Spain’s CASA following an agreement in December 1999.

The GEC merger to create a UK company compared to what would have been an Anglo-German firm, made the possibility of further penetration of the United States (US) defence market more likely. The company, initially called "New British Aerospace", was officially formed on 30 November 1999 and known as BAE Systems.


BAe was the UK's largest exporter, a Competition Commission report gives a ten-year aggregate figure of £45 billion, with defence sales accounting for approximately 80%.[8]



An example of a wing of the first Airbus model, the A300

Buzz BAE 146-300

A buzz BAe 146-300

Eurofighter Typhoon 2

A BAe built Eurofighter development aircraft


Unmanned Air VehiclesEdit

Space hardwareEdit

Church spires Edit

  • Church Army Chapel, Blackheath 1965

Security SystemsEdit


Main article: wikipedia:Al Yamamah

There have been numerous allegations that the Al Yamamah contracts were a result of bribes ("douceurs") to members of the Saudi royal family and government officials. Some allegations suggested that the former Btitish Prime Minister's son Mark Thatcher]] may have been involved, however he has strongly denied receiving payments or exploiting his mother's connections in his business dealings.[9] The UK National Audit Office investigated the contracts and has so far never released its conclusions - the only NAO report ever to be withheld. The BBC's Newsnight observed that it is ironic that the once classified report analysing the construction of MI5's Thames House and MI6's Vauxhall Cross headquarters has been released, but the Al Yamamah report is still deemed too sensitive.

The 2007 documentary filmWelcome Aboard Toxic Airlines contained evidence that vital data was withheld from a 1999-2000 Australian Senate Inqury into the health and flight safety issues relating to oil fumes on the BAe 146. The film also contains an Australian Senator speech about money being paid for silence by BAe on the fumes issues relating to the BAe 146.[10]

Legal troublesEdit

After a 14-month investigation by the US government, in May 2011 the company agreed to pay $79 million in fines to settle allegations that it routinely failed to report payments and commissions it paid in order to facilitate defence transactions from the late 1990s to 2007. The payments and commissions were, according the US government, violations of US laws on military exports.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. "Written Answers - British Aerospace". Hansard (1980-12-17). Retrieved on 2008-03-23. “col. 179”
  2. Betts, Paul (1991-09-26). "Leader toppled by unstoppable momentum", The Financial Times, The Financial Times Limited, p. 28. Retrieved on 2006-12-07. 
  3. Harrison, Michael (1991-09-26). "Roland Smith ousted by boardroom coup at BAe", The Independent, Newspaper Publishing plc, p. 1. Retrieved on 2006-12-07. 
  4. Evans, Richard (1999). Vertical Take-off, p. 2. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. ISBN 1-85788-245-8.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Stone, Chris (1993-09-16). "BAe soars out of the red", The Herald, Caledonian Newspapers Ltd., pp. 3, 7. Retrieved on 2006-12-07. 
  6. Evans, Richard (1999). Vertical Take-off, p. 6. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. ISBN 1-85788-245-8.
  7. Spiegel, Peter (2004-07-17). "End of an era at BAE: how Sir Richard Evans changed the UK defence industry", Financial Times. 
  8. Competition Commission (1995) British Aerospace Public Limited Company and VSEL Plc: A report on the proposed merger p. 28
  9. "Submission from the Campaign Against Arms Trade to the International Development Committee's Inquiry into corruption". Campaign Against Arms Trade (September 2000). Archived from the original on 2006-06-19. Retrieved on 2006-08-19.
  10. "Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines Documentary Film". Fact Not Fiction Films (November 2007). Retrieved on 2007.
  11. Kirchgaessner, Stephanie, and Mark Odell, "BAE Pays $79M In US Corruption Case", Financial Times, 18 May 2011, p. 1.

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at British Aerospace. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.