Ultra Electronics is headquartered in the UK, although most of its revenue is from the US.
The company says, “we operate mainly as a Tier 3 (sub-system) and occasionally a Tier 2 systems provider, in the Maritime, C4ISR/EW [Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Electronic Warfare (EW)] military and commercial aerospace, nuclear and industrial sensors markets.”
Ultra states that it is focused on the ‘five-eyes’ nations: The US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Of these, North America (primarily the US) is the source of 64% of Group revenue, with the UK accounting for 18%.
Ultra supplies arms to a large number of other military customers. Its annual reports cite contracts with India, Taiwan and Turkey. Arms export licence application data for 2008-2015 (the data is no longer released by the government) shows Ultra requesting arms export licences for over 40 countries.
In 2013, Edinburgh University decided, following pressure from students, to withdraw its investments in Ultra Electronics due to its manufacturing of navigation controls for Predator and Reaper drones, the machines used by the US in “targeted killing” missions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Ultra continues to develop drone systems. The latest version of its Rosetta Echo Advanced Payloads provides “Low-Latency Tactical Data Link information to the warfighter in the air and on the ground allowing time sensitive targeting information to be easily transferred from the JTAC to designated attack aircraft.”
On 16 August 2021, Ultra announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Cobham. Cobham was formerly a UK company but was bought by US private equity company Advent in 2019. The deal was the subject of a UK government consultation into the national security implications of the acquisition, but was cleared to proceed by the government in July 2022. The acquisition was completed in August 2022.