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Military

13bn programme a step closer for AirTanker and Thales UK

28 February 2005

The MoD confirmed today that AirTanker has now been formally selected as the Preferred Bidder to meet the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) requirement for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Thales UK, a shareholder and founder member of AirTanker, is also both an equipment and service provider for the programme and welcomes this announcement. The £13bn Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme will provide strategic air refuelling services to the RAF for 27 years.

Thales UK has a 10% share in AirTanker Ltd. It will also have a 15% share in AirTanker Services which will provide training, maintenance and other services to the AirTanker fleet throughout the contract period. Thales UK's revenues will be in a range starting at £800m and going beyond £1bn.

Thales UK's facilities in Wimbledon, Crawley and Wells will provide military avionics, defensive aids, on board mission management systems, mission planning systems and integration as well as aircraft simulators. Thales UK will support the establishment of AirTanker Services Ltd, in turn responsible for 27 years of operation and maintenance of the FSTA capability. Thales UK will also provide comprehensive support services for its full suite of avionics and electronic systems throughout the 27 year life of the programme.

In addition to supplying important equipment and technologies into the programme Thales UK is also providing the training services for the life of the programme. Thales UK's instructors will utilise a Thales UK supplied turnkey training facility at RAF Brize Norton to train RAF and AirTanker aircrew, ground crew, cabin crew and support staff to meet both civil and military operational standards.

Alex Dorrian, CEO Thales UK said, "This is an important step forward for the FSTA programme; a programme which is key for the RAF and for Thales UK. We welcome preferred bidder status and look forward to working with our partners in AirTanker to provide the RAF with the quality service they require."

Notes for Editors

1. AirTanker is a consortium of five shareholders - EADS, Cobham, Rolls-Royce, VT Group and Thales. It will utilise a fleet of Airbus A330-200 aircraft, each fitted with a comprehensive suite of Thales civil and military avionics, in flight entertainment and other military electronics systems, to meet the UK FSTA requirement. 50% of the basic aircraft and 100% of its conversion work will be carried out in the UK.

2. The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme is a 27-year MOD PFI contract to provide air refuelling and air transport services to the RAF. It will replace the RAF's current fleet of VC 10 and TriStar aircraft. The aircraft will be owned and supported by AirTanker while the RAF will have operational control and fly the military missions. MoD values the FSTA programme at £13Bn.

3. Thales UK is already active at RAF Brize Norton supplying aircrew training services for both the VC10 and Tristar current tanker aircraft. Thales UK is the leading provider of aircrew training services to the RAF, currently training aircrew on 9 different aircraft types across 11 RAF Stations ranging from fast jets to helicopters, and all under PFI or PPP contract arrangements.

4. FSTA will become Thales UK's fifth PFI/PPP contract with the UK Government, or fourth with the MoD. The others are London Underground's Connect Programme, the Tornado GR4 Synthetic Training Service, the Lynx Mk7 and Mk9 Aircrew Training Service and the FsAST Integrated Aircrew Synthetic Training Service.

Pictures and other graphics can be downloaded from the Media Centre section of www.airtanker.co.uk.

About Thales UK

Thales UK's defence activities encompass optronics, air defence, sensors, communications and naval systems. The company is the UK's second largest defence contractor and has been a supplier to the MoD since the First World War. Thales employs 11,000 staff in the UK and 61,500 people in 50 countries. In 2003, Thales UK's revenues were £1.2bn
www.thalesgroup.co.uk

Press contacts

Guy Douglas
Thales UK +44 (0) 1932 824832
+44 (0) 7813 903274
guy.douglas@thalesgroup.com

Verena Adt
+33(0)1 57 77 86 26
verena.adt@thalesgroup.com



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