General Electric continues its march into military electronics market with acquisition of Smiths Aerospace

By John Keller

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., 15 Jan. 2007. General Electric Co. (GE) in Fairfield, Conn., is buying Smiths Aerospace in Farnborough, England, for $4.8 billion to create a formidable avionics manufacturing and integration business.

The Sale is conditional on obtaining merger and anti-trust clearances in the U.S. and from the European Commission, as well as approval of Smiths shareholders. The Sale, if it goes through, should be finished by this spring.

Smiths Aerospace is a $2 billion aerospace systems and equipment company with more than 11,000 employees worldwide. The company specializes in integrated aerospace systems, digital, electrical power and mechanical systems, and precision aircraft engine components.

The purchase of Smiths Aerospace will fit in with other recent GE acquisitions in avionics and single-board computers from the purchase of SBS Technologies, and high-performance avionics databus manufacturing with the purchase of Condor Engineering.

GE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt said today that the acquisition would complement GE's existing operations in the United Kingdom, which employ 16,000 people. "We view this as additional, rather than consolidatory," he said. "It's more about growth than anything else."

GE officials would not say if job losses or plant closures would result from the sale. Smiths officials say the are selling their Smiths Aerospace division to increase capital investment, and from a need in the industry for suppliers to have sufficient weight, particularly as the next generation of large aircraft development programs kicks in.

In Smiths Aerospace, GE is acquiring broad expertise in the military and aerospace business. In the United States, the Smiths Aerospace segment in Dayton, Ohio, provides custom electrical power generation, control, and power conversion devices for aerospace and defense.

The Smiths Aerospace group in Grand Rapids, Mich., provides avionics technology for flight management, data management, mission systems, and navigation/guidance. Key products of the Grand Rapids, Mich., group include flight management computer systems and the self-contained navigation system; data transfer systems, flight recorders, and health and usage monitoring systems; compass attitude and heading reference system and land navigation systems; stores management systems and navigation attack systems.

The company's segment in Pompano Beach, Fla., designs and builds high-end military-grade power supplies, including custom, customized, and standard products, as well as build-to-print services.

The Smiths Aerospace segment in Germantown, Md., (previously Fairchild Defense) provides electronics and avionics systems that enable the warfighter to plan, visualize, rehearse, and debrief missions. They also provide data management capabilities such as processing, mass memory and in-flight recording, as well as onboard control of mission aspects.

The company' group on Long Island, N.Y., (previously known as Aerospace Avionics Inc.) designs and builds power products, battery charger systems, proximity sensing systems and cockpit control and annunciator panel products for the commercial and military aerospace applications.

For more information contact Smiths Aerospace online at, or General Electric Co. at

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