Feeds

Qinetiq announces UK layoffs, US sales

Techies bailing out with GPS-assisted parachutes

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Controversial war-boffinry spinoff firm Qinetiq has announced a contract to sell a US-designed precision-parachute system to the RAF, just as it decided to eject 400 of its UK staff. The layoffs came the same day it announced a rise in interim sales and profits.

The Times quotes Graham Love, Qinetiq CEO, as saying: "We are restructuring this business so that we can accelerate the growth. We are certainly upskilling the organisation."

Qinetiq's revenues in the UK are considerable, mostly coming from the Ministry of Defence. However, they are not sufficient to pay the firm's costs. As a recent, damning report into the privatisation made clear, Qinetiq bought up several profitable US firms in the run-up to its own flotation.

Love told the Financial Times last year that he had managed to buy up American tech companies that were not interested in selling because he had convinced them that Qinetiq was an innovative group of inventors, not a normal defence monster firm.

"We're a company made up of scientists and engineers doing clever things," Mr Love - a chartered accountant - said.

"It's very different from being a prime contractor or a manufacturer, it's a different ethos."

It is the revenue from these acquisitions, according to the UK National Audit Office, which enables Qinetiq to support its army of former UK government workers and make a modest profit overall.

Qinetiq has just reported revenues up 18.5 per cent to £638m for the 6 months ending September 30. Pre-tax profit rose 9.3 per cent to £25.9m, principally driven by sales of the US-made Talon bomb-disposal robot.

Now the company plans to let go 400 of those UK employees. Love told the Times the redundancies would mostly be administrative and support staff, and that he planned to be a net recruiter of scientists, hiring 400 of them in the coming year.

"It is not clear who will go yet, but we will run a restructuring and redundancy programme," he said.

The company also announced that another of its US acquisitions, Planning Systems Inc, had won a US$1.7m contract from the Royal Air Force to supply five of its Precision Airdrop Systems (PADS™) to be used in RAF transport planes, as well as associated training and tech support.

PADS is a package which enhances the accuracy of parachute-dropped supplies. Normally, aircraft must fly low in order to get paradropped supplies anywhere near the point of aim, but in places like Afghanistan this isn't a good idea.

PADS equipped aircraft can drop a "wind sonde" before releasing the supplies, which gives an up to date picture of the winds blowing above the target location. The data is relayed to software in a laptop computer in the aircraft cargo bay, which calculates an optimum dropoff location so that parachuted supplies will be carried close to where they're wanted, even from high altitudes.

US forces also use GPS-guided robot-steered parachutes for even better accuracy - indeed these were being successfully used well before PADS was first deployed in 2006 - but the RAF isn't buying those for now.

PADS would also be helpful, of course, for conducting high-altitude jumps by human parachutists, a ploy often favoured by special forces.

Meanwhile it seems that a fair number of people may be bailing out from Qinetiq. If significantly fewer than 400 scientists are to be fired, and it will require 400 new scientists to keep Qinetiq's scientist force growing, it seems clear that noticeable numbers of boffins are leaving of their own accord. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.