HUDSON, N.H. –International and commercial markets are expected to be the growth areas–to as much as 50 percent–as U.S. defense budgets tighten, officials at BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems sectors said.

The Army is Electronic Systems’ biggest customer, even as its budget contracts, said Paul Markwardt, vice president and deputy general manager of the Electronic Systems sector during a media visit here Aug. 12. Six percent of the sector’s business is made up of work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, its largest program.  

For the Army, BAE’s major product area is in infrared guided missile countermeasures for its helicopter and fixed-wing fleet.

Electronic warfare is expected to expand by about five to eight percent over the next five years or so, he said. With more data and more threats, there’s a need to manage it all, he added.

BAE now is offering its Phoenix radio in the competition for the Army’s Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio contract, a multichannel radio that will become part of the service’s modernization effort.

The contract award is expected in October. There’s plenty of competition: Harris [HRS], Raytheon [RTN] Northrop Grumman [NOC] and General Dynamics [GD].

The company also plans to compete on the Army’s Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) for helicopters. A Request for Proposals for this program is expected this fall.  

For the F-35, Electronic Systems provides the electronic warfare suite, avionics and helmet.

Markwardt sees future opportunities is in the commercial aircraft avionics area, as airlines buy more  and newer aircraft.

Executives envision an increase from 25 percent of sector revenue to about 50 percent, he said, with the remainder coming from defense work.

BAE Electronic Systems Intellicabin
Courtesy BAE Systems 

International Foreign Military Sales now hover at about 15 percent, and are projected to increase to as much as 50 percent of defense efforts, he said. “We believe it’s possible.”

Electronic Systems is branching out from standard controls into cockpit systems. For example, at the Innovation Center here, BAE is showing its new product line, the Intellicabin. The products are based on the need for power on commercial aircraft. The systems can provide everything from “mood lighting” to power at every seat and allow cabin crew to manage it all wirelessly.

Showcasing the system in Germany recently, some 19 airlines showed interest, and BAE personnel will be on the road meeting with airlines in the next few weeks.  

Overall, BAE has thousands of contracts and hundreds of different programs it is executing as it moves forward.

“We have a decent footprint in a lot of areas, Markwardt said.