Radar suppliers in line for £400m job

Cobra brings together British, French and German firms

By George Paloczi-Horvath

The Government should this week award a contract worth up to £400m for the British Army’s Cobra artillery location radar.

The project, which was originally launched in 1983, is split between British, French and German participants and is run by the Euro-Art consortium in Munich.

This is made up of Britain’s Racal Radar and Defence systems, plus France’s Thomson-CSF, the German Daimler-Benz-subsidiary SI Sicherungstechnik, and the US’s Lockheed Martin.

The UK Ministry of Defence and Racal this week confirmed that the main Cobra production and support order is expected this month. Racal said that with a 20% workshare, it expects to earn £80m from Cobra. Britain will receive nine radars, according to information given to the Commons defence committee in March 1995.

French and German production numbers remain secret, but could total 20. The combined number of 29 radars is far lower than the 70 originally required, according to a National Audit Office report published last summer.

Euro-Art won a £100m development contract in 1990, but contractual and policy wrangles and slimmer defence budgets have delayed an order since then.

Cobra will enable artillery units to be warned of hostile artillery bombardment and return fire accordingly.

* Racal said this week it would submit a bid soon for the Hungarian army tactical radio requirement, for which tough competition is expected.