Describe the breadth of Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions (CAES), your product portfolio and what types of military and space systems you support.
CAES is an approximately $800 million company with RF, microwave and mmWave technologies that support mission critical systems in radar, electronic warfare (EW), missiles and munitions and communication, navigation, and IFF applications. We also provide standard and custom radiation hardened (RadHard) microelectronic integrated circuits, as well as turnkey manufacturing services.
Our technology can be found on major platforms from sea to space, including destroyers and missile defense radar systems. Major programs include AEGIS SPY-1, SPY-6, AN/SLQ-32, ALQ-99, AIM-120, AIM-9 and the RIM family of missiles. Our technologies play a key role on spacecraft such as GPS, AEHF, Iridium Next, Orion, the Mars rovers and the International Space Station.
What is CAES’ geographic footprint?
We have six major business areas with locations in Exeter, New Hampshire; two locations on Long Island, New York; Eatontown, New Jersey; Lansdale, Pennsylvania; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Huntington Beach, San Diego and San Jose in California. We also have locations in Mexico, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
What is CAES' financial contribution to your parent, Cobham plc?
In 2018, our revenue was approximately $800 million, and we comprise about one-third of Cobham plc revenue.
What technologies or capabilities make CAES unique and provide your entrée into new programs?
While we believe a number of technologies make CAES unique, our ability to partner closely with our customers and invest in technologies that align with their technical roadmaps distinguishes us from other companies.
Technologically, we have a broad and capable aperture portfolio, with antennas that are often integrated with electronics and positioning technology into assemblies that match stringent customer requirements. In EW, our ability to hit customers’ high power, broadband needs while staying aligned with stringent size, weight and power requirements differentiate us from the rest of the market. In radar, our technologies enable very high levels of system sensitivity. Our ability to leverage our packaging capability to develop solutions for very challenging geometries makes us unique in the missile market, as well as in waveguides. Additionally, our work in higher frequencies, Ka-Band and above, is paving the way for future opportunities.
Are DoD R&D programs — say from AFRL and DARPA — an important enabler for your new technology?
While DoD R&D programs are critical in developing new technologies, they are not the only source of funding for new technology. Not only do we invest our own funds in new technology, we partner with our customers to offer technology insertion and spiral upgrades throughout the lifecycle of a program.
Where does CAES fit in the defense food chain between the DoD and component suppliers? As the defense market consolidates, are you shifting your position, such as providing more subsystem solutions?
We operate from the tier 4 component level to the tier 2 subsystem level, with the bulk of our revenue in the tier 3–4 area. While we are closely monitoring the ongoing consolidation in the defense market, we do not have plans to alter our position as a strategically important supplier to defense primes and their key subsystem providers.
From the perspective of your new role as president of CAES, paint the landscape of the defense market, both domestic and international, and which global and U.S. challenges are providing the best opportunities?
The U.S. defense market is certainly in an interesting phase of its evolution. We previously touched on the ongoing consolidation happening at the prime level. That makes it especially important for us as a supplier to partner with our customers to deliver a solution aligned with their needs.
The U.S. Department of Defense is continuing its realignment to be able respond to near-peer competition, and that has certainly been good for the U.S. microwave industry, since radar and EW technologies are critical to that. We also see a lot of activity in space, as government funding remains robust, while commercial small satellite and other nontraditional companies enter the industry.
We've long heard about military programs moving to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to reduce cost and lead time. Have you seen that in your business? Is it a successful approach to achieve the DoD's objectives?
COTS certainly plays a role in reducing cost where it makes sense to use that approach, such as if a robust supply base is readily available and the functionality of a product is relatively broad. For situations, however, where your technology plays a very critical role in the success or failure of a mission, we see that it makes more sense to use a tailored approach to obtain the best value from industry to ensure that the warfighter can get the best, most reliable technologies available.
Are you involved in the new low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations, envisioned for broadband internet or IoT services?
We are already partnered with OneWeb Satellites to provide space-grade waveguides in high volumes for their mega-constellation. Our facility in Exeter is uniquely qualified to provide waveguides in high volumes for these new SmallSat constellations. We are also working with other small satellite integrators with a number of different technologies.
On the digital side, we recently developed LeanREL™, a line of integrated circuits tailored to meet the reliability needs of the LEO satellite market.
How does CAES relate to your U.K. parent, Cobham plc? While national security requires that you have a firewall between the two, can you cooperate on technology development?
In order to perform many of the contracts in our portfolio, CAES operates under a Special Security Agreement with the Department of Defense. This means that CAES has its own board of directors and has implemented a structure to operate with the level of independence from foreign ownership appropriate for a company such as ours.
However, our parent company, Cobham plc, can share their insights with us so that we remain confident in our assessment of technological and market opportunities. We can also collaborate in areas such as in marketing, trade shows and common corporate infrastructure such legal services.
Tell us about your background and what you hope to accomplish in this role.
I came to CAES from Leonardo DRS. In my 15+ years at Leonardo DRS, I developed broad and deep experience leading high-performing, advanced technology organizations engaged in land, sea, air and space domains for military and commercial customers. My last position as vice president and general manager of Leonardo DRS’ Electro-Optical & Infrared Systems business provided me with a great perspective on developing and delivering cutting-edge sensor technology to our warfighters.
Prior to Leonardo DRS, I worked in the business and technology consulting field, which I entered after leaving my military service as a U.S. Marine Corps officer.
In my new role at CAES, I hope to continue our mission of providing critical, differentiated components and systems that protect and enhance lives, while distinguishing ourselves as one of the best performing, mid-tier suppliers in the aerospace and defense market.