Farnborough Air Show

Switzerland relies on Ruag for defense work

 - November 16, 2006, 5:05 AM

Aerospace and defense group Ruag (Hall 1 Stand A21) currently has two major domestic defense orders in process. The first is for upgrading Switzerland’s Boeing F/A-18 fighter force with a new friend/foe recognition system and error-resistant air-to-air and air to-ground datalinks.

The second is the implementation of a C4ISTAR system (command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance) for the Swiss armed forces. The system will be created from existing and new equipment provided by different suppliers; it is scheduled to be fully functional by 2011. Ruag Electronics is in charge of integration. Last year, the company set up a center of excellence and integration with a staff of some 250 specialists. This unit has so far contributed to defining a joint architecture of the system and created a demonstration platform on which proposed solutions can be tested in real-life conditions.

Ruag was created in 1999 when the Swiss government organized several maintenance and manufacturing units of the armed forces into independent profit centers united under the Ruag flag. While currently government-owned, Ruag is, according to its own management, structured in such a way as to allow a shareholder framework.

A Billion in Sales

An international company reporting about $1 billion net annual sales, Ruag employs some 5,600 individuals throughout Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the UK, France and Sweden. Ruag Aerospace, the group’s largest division, achieves annual sales of $44 million with a staff of 2,700. The electronics division, employing 630 people, is also involved in aerospace.

Ruag has been able to substantially expand its business both through internal expansion and acquisitions, and to become an important partner in a number of international programs. When the group started operations, the Swiss department of defense was practically its only customer but now its share is only 39 percent, with export and activities outside Switzerland accounting for more than half of Ruag’s business. Last year, production generated 54 percent of sales versus 46 percent achieved in maintenance and services.

Ruag Aerospace is involved in major international programs with Airbus, Dassault, the European Space Agency and the German aerospace research agency DLR, among others. At its facility in Emmen, in central Switzerland, the company produces the outer trailing edges and wing root skins for the A380 super-large airliner, while its German facility at Oberpfaffenhofen supplies fuselage sections, pressure bulkheads and tail tips for the A320 family. This work is worth around €200 million ($250 million) to Ruag over the next five years.

The company’s participation in the Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle led by Dassault includes wind tunnel testing and developing mechanical subassemblies. Its Emmen facility also has developed external fuel tanks for the French airframer’s Rafale fighter. Earlier, Ruag had contributed to the development of Dassault’s Falcon 7X executive jet with wind tunnel testing also at Emmen.

Separately, Ruag has won a contract from the European Space Agency to develop thermostable satellite structures made of carbon fiber composites and aluminum for the Herschel Space Observatory to be launched next year. The company’s Oberpfaffenhofen facility is modifying and equipping a Gulfstream V for the German aerospace research agency DLR, which will carry out atmospheric research with this aircraft starting in 2008.

Maintenance Key

Maintenance is an important part of Ruag Aerospace’s activities, both in its Swiss home market and in Germany. The company offers support and overhaul for military aircraft, regional airliners and executive jets. Its facility at Oberpfaffenhofen is one of Europe’s largest maintenance bases for Cessna’s Citation line. It also maintains Bombardier Challengers and all types of Dornier aircraft, holding the type certificate for the Do 228 twin turboprop.

In Switzerland, Ruag’s main civilian maintenance facilities are at Zurich, Bern, Alpnach and Lugano airports. Aircraft types maintained there include the Embraer Legacy, the Falcon 900 and 2000 lines, the Challenger CL 601 and 604, the Gulfstream IV and V and the Citation 560 series. The company is also authorized to work on Eurocopter’s Super Puma, Cougar, Dauphin, Ecureuil and Alouette III. Together, Ruag’s Swiss and German maintenance facilities have more than 200 executive aircraft in regular maintenance, plus several hundreds of fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters operated by the German and Swiss armed forces.