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Flight Refuelling Ltd

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Title: Flight Refuelling Ltd  
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Flight Refuelling Ltd

Cobham plc
Traded as
Industry Aerospace & Defence
Founded 1934
Headquarters Wimborne Minster, England, UK
Key people John Devaney, Chairman (from May 2010)
Bob Murphy, CEO
Revenue £1,749.4 million (2012)[1]
Operating income £235.7 million (2012)[1]
Net income £173.4 million (2012)[1]

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. As of July 2013, Cobham ranks 46th on the Defense News list of Top 100 defense contractors; having dropped from a 2009 high of 35th after the sale of it Analytics strategic business unit in late 2011. As of early 2011, Cobham was 33rd on Flight International's list of the Top 100 Top aerospace firms. Cobham has dropped off the Washington Technology's list of Top 100 US government contractors as of 2011, having briefly been ranked 98th in 2009.[2]


  • 1934: Cobham was founded as Flight Refuelling Limited (FRL) by Sir Alan Cobham[3] at RAF Ford in Sussex.
  • Shortly after the outbreak of World War II: FRL moved to Tarrant Rushton in Dorset.
  • 1948: FRL was the first contractor to join the Berlin airlift.[3]
  • 1949: FRL developed the 'probe and drogue' method of air-to-air refuelling.[3]
  • 1970s: FRL transferred its aerial operations to Hurn Airport.[4]
  • 1996: ML Aviation took over Nash & Thompson, a major competitor.[5]
  • September 1997: Cobham bought ML Aviation.[6]
  • 2008: Cobham purchases S-TEC Corporation, maker of general aviation autopilots for $38 million.[7]
  • February 2008: Cobham bought the sensor and antenna systems division of BAE Systems for $240 million.[8]
  • June 2008 Cobham acquired Sparta Inc., a US defence business, for $416 million.[9] It was renamed Cobham Analytic Solutions.
  • September 2008: Cobham completed the purchase of the radio frequency components business of M/A-COM for $425 million.[10]
  • Early 2009, National Jet Systems renamed itself as Cobham (known as Cobham Aviation Services Australia or CAvSA) in line with a global Cobham rebranding initiative by its parent company Cobham plc.
  • 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.[11]
  • June 2009: A Cobham - Northrop Grumman 50-50 joint venture won the U.S. Army's US$2.4 billion competition to supply Vehicular Intercom Systems.[12]
  • October 2011: Cobham Analytic Solutions sold for $350 million to the privately owned Parsons Corporation.[13]
  • June 2012: Cobham acquires Danish satellite communications company Thrane & Thrane A/S, delisting the company and 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. Cobham SATCOM will be headquartered in Denmark and led by former Thrane & Thrane CEO Walter Thygesen, now the vice president of Cobham SATCOM.
  • May 2013: Cobham acquires Axell Wireless Ltd.
  • July 2013: Cobham buys out FB Heliservices joint venture partner Bristow Helicopters.


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,[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

Products: breathing apparatus

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:

Queen's Awards for Enterprise

  • 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.[17]
  • 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.[18]
  • 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.[18]

Sports club

The company created Cobham Sports and Social Club, a members' club in Merley, near the main manufacturing site in Wimborne, Dorset.

See also

Companies portal


External links

  • Official site
  • 75th anniversary
  • Yahoo profile
  • A 1950 Flight Refuelling Limited advert
  • A picture of a Flight Refuelling Lancaster refuelling another using the early looped-hose method
  • 1947 article on FLR's first in-flight refueling system
  • de Havilland Comet

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