BAE Systems

We have a significant role in helping to keep our country safe and it's something we're extremely proud of. But our impact in the UK goes far beyond defence - we play a key role in society by helping to grow the UK's national and regional economy and boost prosperity, skills and technological know-how. Every year we make an important contribution to the UK's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and exports. BAE Systems operates responsibly and sustainably and we are working towards achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by 2030. Our business is also a founding member of the Armed Forces Covenant and we are committed to supporting the communities where we operate.

Our economic impact in the UK

To quantify our economic contribution, we asked Oxford Economics to produce an independent analysis of our contribution to the UK's economy in 2020. A copy of the full report, ‘The Contribution of BAE Systems to the UK Economy 2022’ and an infographic can be downloaded below.
 

For every 100 jobs at BAE Systems, we support a total of 410 jobs across the UK economy

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The report showed that our company:

 
  • contributed £10.1 billion to the UK’s GDP in 2020, contributing a total of £350 for every £100 supported across the UK’s economy
  • exported £3.9bn of goods and services, equivalent to 0.7% of UK exports that year and contributed £2 billion to the UK’s balance of payments
  • supported 143,000 full time jobs across the UK including 35,300 at BAE Systems itself. Of these 72% of employees work in engineering roles
  • spent £3.8 billion with 5,000 UK suppliers, supporting nearly 60,000 jobs
  • made a total tax contribution of £2.7 billion including more than £700 million paid directly by the Company
  • invested £1.1 billion in technology, research and development on behalf of customers and partners
  • was highly productive - with each employee contributing £83,000 to the UK economy - 29% higher than the national average
  • supported deprived areas - employing 14,700 full time workers and spending £700 million with supplier companies in the bottom fifth of the government’s Indices for Deprivation for each of England, Scotland and Wales in 2020
 
 
Watch the video Our contribution to the UK

Supporting the UK's regions

 
We employ 35,300 staff at sites throughout the UK, with the majority of our employees living in the following regions:

In the central belt of Scotland we:

 
  • manage the shipyards at Govan and Scotstoun
  • build Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy
  • manage electronics development facilities at Hillend and a test facility at Bishopton
  • supported 6,420 workers living in the region including 2,490 employed by us
  • spent £270m with more than 250 suppliers in 2020
 
 
Image showing HMS Glasgow rollout

 

 
In the central belt of Scotland we operate shipyards at Govan and Scotstoun, which together directly employed 2,700 workers in 2020. The shipyards have a long military history, are currently involved in building the new Type 26 frigate for the Royal Navy, and in recent years worked on sections of the UK’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers as well as assembling all the ships in the Type 45 Class of warship and Offshore Patrol Vessels.
 
In this region, 160 of our people also work at a facility in Hillend, outside Dunfermline and focus on electronics development and manufacturing. We also employ people at Bishopton, outside Glasgow, where we have an environmental test facility. Nearby, we are developing Dargavel Village, a new community of 4,000 homes with supporting infrastructure. This is due to be complete in 2034.

In Lancashire we:

 
  • manage engineering and manufacturing facilities at Warton and Samlesbury
  • have business support offices in Preston
  • manage our workshare in Typhoon, F-35 and the Future Combat Air System
  • supported 12,650 workers living in the region including 8,730 employed by us
  • spent £70m with more than 220 suppliers in Lancashire in 2020
 
 
Image showing Tempest with network
 
 
Lancashire is home to our military aircraft facilities at Samlesbury, and at Warton. In addition to designing and developing next generation military aircraft capabilities such as the Tempest Future Combat Air System, these sites are a hub of training and support solutions delivered to international customers and manage BAE Systems’ workshare in the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 military aircraft programmes. As such, they have made a significant contribution to UK exports. The Warton facility also manages upgrade work for the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fleet. At Samlesbury, in addition to manufacturing major components for Typhoon, the site builds the aft fuselage and the horizontal and vertical tail planes for every F-35 military aircraft under contract to the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin.
 
Aside from the military aircraft sites, we have several smaller facilities in Preston, with a focus on central business support activities.
 
 

In Cumbria we:

 
  • manage our single largest UK site at Barrow-in-Furness
  • design and manufacture the Astute-class attack submarine
  • design and manufacture the Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarine
  • supported 11,550 workers living in the region including 7,840 employed by us
  • spent £80m with more than 100 suppliers in Cumbria in 2020
 
 
An artist's impression of Dreadnought
 
 
Cumbria is home to our single largest UK site, with over 8,460 workers employed in our submarine-building facility at Barrow-in-Furness. The Barrow workforce is currently involved in two major manufacturing programmes. This includes construction of the Royal Navy’s new Astute-class attack submarines, the first of which was begun in 2001 and commissioned for active service in 2010. The seventh and final of these boats is expected to be commissioned by 2026.
 
The other major manufacturing programme currently underway is the new Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarines, which will be part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The steel was cut for the first and second of these boats in 2016 and 2019 respectively and they are expected to enter service in the early 2030s. In addition to the Dreadnought and Astute programmes, in September 2021, the MOD awarded BAE Systems a £85 million contract to support early design and concept work to deliver a replacement for the Astute class.
 

In the south of England we:

 
  • manage 13 sites with naval, aerospace and cyber security capabilities
  • deliver upgrades and maintenance to warships, inc. QE-class aircraft carriers 
  • manage Portsmouth Naval Base with KBR
  • supported 12,300 workers living in the region including 5,160 employed by us
  • spent £590m with nearly 750 suppliers in the south of England in 2020
 
 
HMS Queen Elizabeth Departure May 2021
 
 
Our largest facility in the south of England is Portsmouth Naval Base, which, with KBR, we manage on behalf of the Royal Navy, and where 70% of Royal Navy surface ships are based - including the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. We employed 2,400 workers at the Naval Base in 2020, delivering upgrades and maintenance to warships, as well as other services for the Royal Navy.
 
We also operate a small boats factory, producing vessels such as the Pacific 24 rigid inflatable boat, used in fast rescue and anti-piracy operations. A further 900 people are based at nearby Broad Oak, a specialised site for the design and manufacture of naval electronics and other equipment for aerospace and defence. Staff in Christchurch specialise in the management of defence information.
 
Elsewhere in the south of England, we employ people in our cyber security business at Guildford, and have staff in Frimley, on the Isle of Wight and at Weymouth working predominantly on naval programmes. Our headquarters are based at Farnborough in Hampshire.
 
 

Elsewhere in the UK

 
Outside of these four regions, we operate an electronic systems engineering and manufacturing business at Rochester in Kent - and a munitions business with sites located at Radway Green, Cheshire, Washington in Tyne and Wear, and at Glascoed in Monmouthshire. In addition staff employed by BAE Systems Air work from sites in Brough, Yorkshire, in Yeovil, Somerset and on Royal Air Force bases throughout the UK. We have further sites at Leeds, Gloucester and Manchester employing staff working in cyber security and data analysis. A significant naval engineering capability is also located at New Malden.
 

Our social impact in the UK

 
We make a sustainable social contribution to the communities in which we live and work in the UK, and invested £100 million in UK technologies and an additional £93 million in skills and education in 2020. Our target is to deliver net zero greenhouse gas emissions across all our operations by 2030. We are also a founding supporter of the Armed Forces Covenant, supporting many in the armed forces and their families, including veterans
 

Skills

 
  • We’re one of the UK’s largest engineering employers, with 72% of employees in engineering related roles
  • We invested £90m in skills and education programmes in 2020
  • We trained 2,000 apprentices and almost 600 graduates in 2020
  • Our Academies for Skills & Knowledge are established at Samlesbury and Barrow-in-Furness
  • We’re offering permanent employment for disadvantaged young people through Movement to Work and Kickstart
 
Image of BAE Systems Air apprentices  
 

Technology

 
  • We self-funded £100m in technology and R&D, equivalent to 3.4% of our direct contribution to GDP in 2020
  • We carried out R&D activity in the UK worth a total of £6.4bn from 2014-2020
  • We have strategic partnerships with Cranfield University and the Universities of Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton and Strathclyde
  • Our UK portfolio of patents and patent applications covers approx.1,300 inventions 
 
Image showing ICASE 2020 Acoustic cloaking video still
 

Sustainability

 
  • We have a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions across all our operations by 2030, and are working towards a net zero value chain by 2050
  • We directly employed 14,700 workers - more than 40% of our overall UK workforce - from Britain’s most deprived local authorities in 2020 and spent nearly £700m on supply chain purchases in these areas
  • We’re a founding supporter of the Armed Forces Covenant and have long standing partnerships with armed forces charities
  • In 2020, we donated £1m to armed forces charities and an additional £0.9m to our communities
  • Our employees volunteered 7,043 hours during work time, equivalent to £264,000
  • We’re committed to being a diverse and inclusive workplace with UK wide support groups run by our employees 
 
Image of KSB Govan group litter picking
 
Image showing ASK Academy apprentice

Academies for Skills & Knowledge

We have built two Academies for Skills & Knowledge in the North of England, investing more than £40M since 2015 to train and develop our employees. Opened in 2016, the first academy, located at our Samlesbury site in Lancashire, trains apprentices and employees from our Air business and is also used by local schools to gain first-hand experience of STEM in an industrial environment. In the first two years of operation, more than 100,000 people used the facility.
 
Our second Academy for Skills & Knowledge was opened in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria to support the development of submarine design and manufacturing skills. The facility received its first apprentices in December 2018.
 
 
Image showing satellite in orbit

Developing a UK space capability

In September 2021 we acquired InSpace Missions, a Hampshire based SME that designs, builds and operates satellites. The acquisition combines our expertise in highly secure satellite communications with InSpace Missions’ full lifecycle satellite capability, to create a sovereign UK space offering. In-Space Missions has an innovative approach which allows multiple organisations to launch payloads in the same satellite, lessening the time taken to get projects into orbit and reducing the number of separate manmade objects in space.
 
A further example of our work in the space sector is a collaboration with Goonhilly Earth Station (GES), a large radio-communications site in Cornwall. The two organisations have worked together since 2018 in commercialising deep space communications. We have supplied two tracking, telemetry, and command processor systems that allow GES to track and communicate with a wide range of spacecraft including future manned and robotic missions to the Moon and Mars. The partnership involves working closely on the existing deep space programme with the European Space Agency.
 
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Image showing Type 26 HMS GLASGOW

Shipbuilding in Glasgow

Our shipyards in Glasgow are building new vessels for the Royal Navy, known as the Type 26 City-class frigate, will be multi-mission warships, designed to replace the UK’s Type 23 frigates. The new class will be used in anti-submarine warfare, air defence, and humanitarian assistance anywhere on the world’s oceans. Three of the eight frigates are currently under construction by BAE Systems. The first of the class, HMS Glasgow, was rolled out of the build hall into the open air for the first time in May 2021, while progress on the second ship, HMS Cardiff, continues at pace at the Company’s shipyards in Glasgow.
 
In June 2021, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge set the plasma cutting machine to work on the first plate of steel for the third frigate, HMS Belfast. The Type 26 programme supports more than 4,000 jobs across the UK and is making a significant contribution to the nation’s economic recovery by maintaining key skills and capabilities. To date, more than £1 billion has been invested across the programme’s supply chain, with more than 100 suppliers globally. 
 
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Image showing smart factory

Working in partnership to develop smart factories of the future

We are at the forefront of UK research into Industry 4.0 and the digital technologies needed to make it happen and improve productivity throughout our business and in the sector. Through Air Labs, our evolving virtual and physical technology incubator, we allow engineers to collaborate and experiment, working together in areas such as design, computational fluid dynamics, structures and qualification. This allows us to architect and integrate at pace, delivering compelling and affordable solutions across our product lifecycles.
 
Looking specifically at advances in the manufacturing element of this lifecycle, we are drawing from work in Air Labs with our first of its kind factory of the future. Here, our teams are integral to the development of a fully connected, digital Industry 4.0 factory that will support a high value manufacturing enterprise zone in Lancashire. The ‘smart factory’ will exploit the latest technologies and expertise to drive down costs and improve efficiencies in manufacturing and we are collaborating with other leading companies to help shape a paradigm shift in aircraft manufacturing and deliver cutting edge manufacturing capability.
 
This new factory demonstrates a new approach to the way humans and machines can operate together. Cobotics, such as flexible robot technologies, remove the need for heavy, fixed, long-lead tooling and can switch from the manufacture of one item or platform to another quickly.

Also vital to our future factory is the ability to capture manufacturing data from the start of the process right the way through to completion. With this we can spot inefficiencies and maximise available resources, time and materials. Austin Cook, Lead Technologist, Emerging Technologies & Systems said: “By using automation and data we remove significant elements of tooling, bringing down set-up and infrastructure costs. We can look earlier in the life-cycle and automate future downstream processes.”
 
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Image showing li-fi communication

Li-Fi technology for Royal Navy submarines

Our engineers at Barrow-in-Furness are investigating deploying a novel technology called Li-Fi onto submarines when it isn’t possible to install secure Wi-Fi because of physical, environmental or security constraints.  
 
Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves to transmit data, Li-Fi transmits data at superfast speeds using visible, ultra-violet and infrared light. The technology works through switching LEDs on and off at incredibly high speeds unnoticeable to the human eye. Although the LEDs must always remain powered to transmit, they can be dimmed so that they are not visible but still provide a data function.
 
Li-Fi cannot penetrate walls, which makes it much more secure to outside interference or hacking. As well as allowing engineers to communicate with one another, it has the potential to be used to enable systems to communicate, or to introduce connectivity where it has not been previously possible due to logistic or environmental challenges. Li-Fi does not provide electromagnetic interference, so it can be used in close proximity to sensitive instruments.
 
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Image showing BAE Systems employee

Movement to Work

As one of the lead employers within the Movement to Work scheme, which aims to tackle youth unemployment by providing vocational training and work experience, we provide nearly 100 young people with work placements every year.

Rosie, now a production apprentice based in our Submarines business in Barrow-in-Furness, had struggled with previous job applications due to her dyslexia and number dyspraxia. After finding out about Movement to Work through her local job centre, she applied to join the programme. Speaking about her experience, Rosie says, “BAE Systems has given me a second chance to prove what I can do. I love my job and I'd recommend the scheme to anyone."
 
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Image showing T-650 vehicle uncrewed air system

UK partnerships develop electric technologies

The demand for low and zero emission vehicles has soared as air quality and climate change have risen up the global agenda. We are working with industry partners, small and medium sized enterprises and academia in both the defence and commercial sectors to meet this challenge.
 
One concept being developed with Berkshire-based Malloy Aeronautics is a planned all electric "heavy lift" uncrewed air system. The T-650 vehicle will have a top speed of 140 kilometres per hour and the ability to carry a class-leading 300 kilogram payload with a range of 30 kilometres. 
 
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Image of Brough Structural Testing Facility

Our Structural Testing Facility at Brough

One of the biggest testing laboratories in the world can be found on the banks of the River Humber in East Yorkshire, on the outskirts of the city of Hull. Here, at our Brough site, our structural and dynamic testing facility continues to put a Typhoon airframe through its paces without the aircraft ever leaving the hangar. The airframe is covered with hundreds of strain gauges and actuators which push and pull the aircraft to simulate flight, enabling our fatigue engineers to operate an airframe hundreds of flying hours ahead of the RAF's frontline fleet.
 
This ensures any structural issues are identified and put right at a far earlier stage than the flying aircraft. The team at Brough have been undertaking structural testing work since the 1970s, testing dozens of different aircraft including the iconic Harrier  and Tornado, and more recently the F-35 Lightning II and Hawk.
 
 
Image of Wind Tunnel at Warton

Wind tunnels in Warton

With speeds of nearly four times the speed of sound, our wind tunnels in Warton, Lancashire test aerodynamics and help ensure that aircraft and missiles are as streamlined as possible. On occasion, they have also been known to be used to help athletes test sporting equipment as part of our technology partnership with UK Sport.
 
The facility has been helping define and develop designs for decades and recent investments are driving even greater efficiencies into the way it operates. The tests are carried out by passing air at high speeds over aircraft models, aircraft parts or missiles in order to assess the aerodynamic performance. This helps us decide what changes could be made to ensure the product is at its optimum.
 
Our Warton site is home to two tunnels, known respectively as the low speed and high speed tunnels. In the latter, tests can be carried out at speeds up to Mach 3.8, which makes it perfect for transonic work.
 
 
Image showing BAE Systems employee

Investing in munitions production at Radway Green

Our Radway Green site equips the British Armed Forces and international customers with a range of 5.56mm and 7.62mm small arms ammunitions. The site has undergone an £83M investment, giving us some of the most advanced ammunition production machines available in the world. More recently the facility has secured an additional investment of around £2M to assist with the implementation of Industry 4.0 principles.
 
Each round manufactured in Radway Green, is tested by an automatic image capture and laser measuring machine, which takes thousands of accurate measurements as the rounds pass along the production line. The new technologies help maintain the highest quality output to support the munitions needs of the British Army and to fulfil export orders.
 
George Schofield, Integrated Delivery Team Leader for Light Munitions at BAE Systems’ Land UK business, said: “Having provided nearly all of the British Army’s ammunition requirements since 1940, we are trusted to provide high volumes of precision rounds that soldiers know they can rely on.”
 
 
Image of English Electric P5 Kingston - Heritage

A proud heritage in the North

With a long and proud heritage in the North of England, BAE Systems can trace its history back to many of the pioneering engineering companies in the region, across air, land, sea and munitions.

We’re also immensely proud of our long heritage of engineering and manufacturing excellence; this tradition stretches back over 100 years to the manufacture of the UK’s first submarine at Barrow-in-Furness by the Vickers Company in 1901.

From the first attempt by WG Armstrong to establish his crane company in Newcastle in 1845, business expanded into shipbuilding, munitions and vehicles along the north bank of the Tyne. In 1871, James Ramsden launched the Iron Shipbuilding Company at what is now our Barrow site, merging with Vickers in 1897 and then Armstrong in 1927.

Meanwhile by 1910, the birth of British aviation saw Avro launched in Manchester, while Robert Blackburn was taking his first flights at Filey before opening manufacture at Brough in 1916.  An initial foray into flying boats by English Electric in Preston in the early 1920s led to the opening of Samlesbury for manufacture in WW2, and the acquisition of our Warton site as a focus for post war development.

For over a century, heavy munitions and electronics have been manufactured around Newcastle, and other Royal Ordnance plants such as Radway Green continue to supply ammunition using the most innovative production techniques.
 
 
Image showing a bus with the Series-ER (Electric Range) hybrid propulsion system

Bringing green technology to London's buses

Building on 25 years of innovation in developing electric power and propulsion technology, our Electronic Systems business, supported by its site in Rochester, Kent, has produced electric drive systems to power battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell electric, and hybrid electric commercial vehicles. Our electric drive solutions now power more than 14,000 buses around the world. In the UK, the Company has collaborated with Alexander Dennis Limited, Britain’s biggest bus builder, to provide propulsion technology operating on more than 1,400 buses on the streets of London and other cities around the country.
 
The Series-ER (Electric Range) hybrid propulsion solution for buses has a full electric drive range of up to 3 miles. Using “geofencing” technology, transit systems can define sections within the transit route map, specifying where the engine can be turned off to operate as an electric vehicle creating targeted zero emissions zones in high pollution areas. This hybrid technology enables the bus to drive in zero-emission mode, up to 35% of the time, without the need to stop and recharge the batteries.
 

Our heritage

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Careers

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