Marconi Electronic Systems

Marconi Electronic Systems
Marconi Electronic Systems Limited
Fate Merged with British Aerospace
Successor BAE Systems
Founded 20 July 1897 (as Marconi Company)
Defunct 30 November 1999
Headquarters Chelmsford, England, UK
Key people Guglielmo Marconi
Arnold Weinstock
Parent The General Electric Company

Marconi Electronic Systems (MES), or GEC-Marconi as it was until 1998, was the defence arm of The General Electric Company (GEC). It was demerged from GEC and acquired by British Aerospace (BAe) on November 30, 1999 to form BAE Systems. GEC then renamed itself Marconi plc.

MES exists today as BAE Systems Electronics Limited, a subsidiary of BAE Systems, but the assets were rearranged elsewhere within that company. MES-related businesses include BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, BAE Systems Surface Ships, BAE Systems Insyte and SELEX Galileo (now owned by Finmeccanica).



Marconi S511 radar located at Norwich International Airport.

MES represented the pinnacle of GEC's defence businesses which had a heritage of almost 100 years. Following GEC's acquisition of Marconi as part of English Electric in 1968 the Marconi brand was used for its defence businesses e.g. Marconi Space & Defence Systems (MSDS), Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd (MUSL). GEC's history of military products dates back to World War I with its contribution to the war effort then including radios and bulbs. World War II consolidated this position with the company involved in many important technological advances, most notably radar.

Between 1945 and GEC's demerger of its defence business in 1999, the company became one of the world's most important defence contractors. GEC's major defence related acquisitions included Associated Electrical Industries in 1967, English Electric Company (including its Marconi subsidiary) in 1968, Yarrow Shipbuilders in 1985, parts of Ferranti's defence business in 1990, Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering in 1995 and Kvaerner Govan in 1999. In June 1998, MES acquired Tracor, a major American defence contractor, for $1.4bn.


The 1997 merger of American corporations Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, which followed the forming of Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defence contractor in 1995, increased the pressure on European defence companies to consolidate. In June 1997 British Aerospace Defence Managing Director John Weston commented "Europe... is supporting three times the number of contractors on less than half the budget of the U.S.".[1] European governments wished to see the merger of their defence manufacturers into a single entity, a European Aerospace and Defence Company.[2]

As early as 1995 British Aerospace and the German aerospace and defence company DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) were said to be keen to create a transnational aerospace and defence company.[3] Merger discussions began between British Aerospace and DASA in July 1998. A merger was agreed between British Aerospace Chairman Richard Evans and DASA CEO Jürgen Schrempp in December 1998.[4]

GEC was also under pressure to participate in defence industry consolidation. Reporting the appointment of George Simpson as GEC managing director in 1996, The Independent had said "some analysts believe that Mr Simpson's inside knowledge of BAe, a long-rumoured GEC bid target, was a key to his appointment. GEC favours forging a national 'champion' defence group with BAe to compete with the giant US organisations."[5] When GEC put MES up for sale on 22 December 1998, BAE abandoned the DASA merger in favour of purchasing its British rival. The merger of British Aerospace and MES was announced on 19 January 1999.[6] Evans stated that in 2004 that his fear was that an American defence contractor would acquire MES and challenge both British Aerospace and DASA.[4] The merger created a vertically integrated company which The Scotsman described as "[a combination of British Aerospace's] contracting and platform-building skills with Marconi's coveted electronics systems capability".[7] for example combining the manufacturer of the Eurofighter with the company that provided many of the aircraft's electronic systems; British Aerospace was MES' largest customer.[8] In contrast, DASA's response to the breakdown of the merger discussion was to merge with Aérospatiale to create the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), a horizontal integration. EADS has since considered a merger with Thales to create a "fully rounded" company.[9]

While MES was responsible for the majority of GEC's defence sales other GEC companies achieved defence related sales, principally GEC Alsthom, GEC-Plessey Telecommunications (GPT) and GEC Plessey Semiconductors.


Major projects

This is a partial list:

Naval weapons


See also

  • Aerospace industry in the United Kingdom
  • Marconi Scientists - Article about the 25+ defence employees who have died in mysterious circumstances since the early 1980s
  • CMC Electronics - formerly the Canadian Marconi Company, once part of EE/GEC & BAe


  1. ^ Rothman, Andrea; Landberg, Reed (1997-06-15). "Europe Defense Firms Feel Pressure to Unite". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  2. ^ "Business: The Company File: Defence merger on the radar". BBC News (BBC). 1998-07-10. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  3. ^ Jones, Adam (1999-01-20). "Europe cries foul as New BAe emerges". The Times (Times Newspapers). 
  4. ^ a b Spiegel, Peter (2004-07-17). "The largest aerospace companies gather next week for the Farnborough air show but the event will be without its long-time unofficial host". Financial Times: p. 11. 
  5. ^ Hotten, Russell (1996-03-19). "GEC confirms Simpson job". The Independent (Newspaper Pub): p. 17. 
  6. ^ BAE Systems Annual Report 1999 22. BAE Systems plc (2000). Retrieved on 2006-10-27.
  7. ^ Nevill, Louise (1999-01-04). "BAe and Marconi moving toward merger". The Scotsman (The Scotsman Publications): p. 17. 
  8. ^ "Speculation Rises on GEC Merger". The Scotsman (The Scotsman Publications). 1998-12-28. 
  9. ^ "Getting it together?". The Economist (The Economist Newspaper). 2002-07-20. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Electronic Systems — are groupings of electronic circuits and components which are designed to accomplish one or more complex functions. Examples include telecommunication systems, computer systems, power distribution systems, radar systems, electronic music systems …   Wikipedia

  • Marconi — may refer to: Contents 1 People 2 Businesses 3 Places 4 Other uses People Guglielmo Marconi, Italian born radio p …   Wikipedia

  • Marconi Company — The Marconi Company Ltd. was founded by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897 as The Wireless Telegraph Signal Company (sometimes presented as Wireless Telegraph Trading Signal Company). It was renamed Marconi s Wireless Telegraph Company in 1900 and The… …   Wikipedia

  • Marconi Station — The New Brunswick Marconi Radio Station in Somerset, New Jersey, being toured in 1921 by some of the greatest physicists and scientists of the era, including Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla. The Marconi Wireless Corporation operated numerous… …   Wikipedia

  • Marconi — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Marconi est un nom de famille notamment porté par : Marconi, une subdivision administrative de Rome ; Guglielmo Marconi, un scientifique… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Electronic engineering — is a discipline dealing with the behavior and effects of electrons (as in electron tubes and transistors) and with electronic devices, systems, or equipment.The term now also covers a large part of electrical engineering degree courses as studied …   Wikipedia

  • Marconi Instruments — was a British company, one of the Marconi group of companies, formerly part of GEC. The company was based in St Albans, Colchester and Stevenage (where it eventually consolidated). Prior to the consolidation in Stevenage, its main site was at… …   Wikipedia

  • Electronic libretto — The Electronic libretto system is used primarily in opera houses and is a device which presents translations of lyrics into an audience s language or transcribes lyrics that may be difficult to understand in the sung form. Since 1983, projected… …   Wikipedia

  • Electronic data processing — Bold textElectronic data processing (EDP) can refer to the use of automated methods to process commercial data. Typically, this uses relatively simple, repetitive activities to process large volumes of similar information. For example: stock… …   Wikipedia

  • BAE Systems — Infobox Company name = BAE Systems plc company type = Public (lse|BA.) foundation = 30 November 1999 location city = Farnborough location country = England, UK locations = key people = Richard Olver (Chairman) Ian King (CEO) area served =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.