BAE’s New FalconWorks To Lead Aerospace Development Projects

BAE Systems UAS concept
Credit: BAE Systems

WARTON, England—BAE Systems has established a new division to lead the company’s rapid and agile technology developments in the air domain. 

The company’s FalconWorks—formally launched July 10—is BAE’s answer to Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works or Boeing’s Phantom Works, but will work differently, FalconWorks Managing Director Dave Holmes told journalists during company briefings here on July 3 ahead of the Royal International Air Tattoo. 

“We won’t be doing anything on our own. What we are endeavoring to do is stitch together partnerships into a more regularized manner for product delivery,” Holmes said. 

The division has been established within BAE Systems’ air business but separate from company’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Eurofighter Typhoon and Future Combat Air System products. 

Absorbed into FalconWorks is the ongoing development of the Tempest Demonstrator aircraft and the company’s work on electric air systems, including its partnerships with Pipistrel, Malloy Aeronautics and Embraer’s Eve electric vertical takeoff and landing system. 

Also embedded in FalconWorks is the company’s support to Turkish Aerospace Industries on the Kaan combat aircraft, autonomous collaborative platforms such as the concepts presented at last year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, and what remains of BAE Systems’ regional aircraft business. That unit supports the company’s Jetstream and Advanced Turboprop aircraft and the Avro family of regional jets. 

“Technology is developing and being introduced in society at a rapid pace, meaning  we need to also examine our business model and look at how we set trends rather than copy them,” Holmes explained.  

FalconWorks activities will extend beyond BAE’s traditional military customers, supporting security forces and parapublic agencies where Holmes says there is significant crossover of technologies. 

The division also will work differently from traditional BAE projects. Rather than take a lead in a program and draw everyone in, says Holmes, FalconWorks will adopt a best-athlete approach to projects. 

“We need the customer intimacy, we need to understand we are developing a solution which has a route to market, and that is going to make a difference to those people who protect us,” Holmes stressed. 

He expects the FalconWorks to become a high revenue business, with around 1,000 people working on 200-300 projects at any one time. 

As for the name, Holmes says the falcon as a bird of prey is a respected symbol particularly in the Middle East and markets such as Saudi Arabia, where the new business expects to be present.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.