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The Diehl Company

The small art foundry of Margarete and Heinrich Diehl, which had turned into a leading Franconian industrial plant for semi-finished metals in just a few years, has grown into an internationally active technology corporation under the management of their son, Karl Diehl.

Today Diehl Defence offers its customers market-leading products, technologies and services in the business areas defence and vehicle systems. The performance spectrum for combat aircraft and helicopters of the Air Forces ranges from guided missiles and nosw-gun ammunition to modern reconnaissance-, protection and training systems. For Armies the corporate division offers system repair of wheeled and tracked vehicles including complete track suspension units as well as modern close-in and battlefield reconnaissance and effective active and passive protection for crew and vehicle. Diehl Defence provides the navies with modern anti-ship and air defence missiles as well as shipborne guns.

Diehl, the Nuremberg-based company, looks back on its 100-year tradition. On 05 September 2002 Margarete and Heinrich Diehl found a shop for wrought-iron work in the Schweiggerstrasse in Nuremberg for manufacture of epitaphs, building fittings and artistic cast goods. Heinrich Diehl looks after the technical aspects of the company, Margarete Diehl after finances and personnel. In 1917, their own metal, casting and pressing plant was constructed in the Äussere Bayreuther Strasse. In the 1920s, with the installation of a modern extrusion press for manufacture of rods and tubes, the company enters industrial dimensions and supplies its products to customers in the construction and automotive industries also outside the Nuremberg region.

In the 1930s, Karl Diehl, son of the founders, started mass production of precison-mechanical parts in the former Bing factory in the Stephanstrasse. The company's headquarters are established there in 1937. In 1938, a new plant for semifinished products is completed in Röthenbach on the Pegnitz. Heinrich Diehl dies on November 7, 1938 while construction of a second plant is being planned and Karl Diehl assumes responsibility for 2,800 employees in the midst of the largest building project of the company's history. Shortly after, Diehl is classified as a war-strategic company.

During the war, prisoners of war, later on also forced laborers, were employed to be able to produce the quantities dictated by the German authorities. Heavy air raids destroy important production facilities. After the war, dismantling and rebuilding of civil production characterize the situation in the plants. On a temporary basis, repair work is carried out on German railroad cars, and commodities such as ladles and soup pots are manufactured. Precision-mechanical production is resumed, and already in 1947, the first Diehl clock is put on the market.

In the 1950s, Diehl rapidly expands its main business, the production of semifinished material and establishes a number of further fields of business such as the production of calculating machines and timers with adjustable presets which develop into independent sections in the subsequent years. Through diversification, the company makes itself independent of the cyclical upswings and downswings of a very specific market and acquires additional technological and material competence in related business areas. The foundation of the Bundeswehr and the demand for defense technology from domestic production leads Diehl to again make use of its experience in fuze production, which was gained during the war, and form a partnership which - in addition to the Bundeswehr - soon encompasses the armed forces of allied countries.

In the 1960s, the technological change from mechanical systems to electrical and, later on, electronic applications results in Diehl's painful changeover from calculating-machine production, which has been very successful until then, to systems of data technology and modern word processing. A similar development takes place in the sector of clocks and watches where the traditional balance wheel, which regulates the movement of clocks and watches, is increasingly replaced by quartz crystals.

In the 1970s, the sport timer by the Diehl subsidiary Junghans determines the Olympic champions of Munich, a little later the company switches its entire production to electronic clocks and watches. The fact that markets are growing closer requires increasing internationalization of the company. Diehl meets this requirement by intensifying worldwide sales activities and by establishing first company sites abroad, for instance, in Brazil and the US.

In the 1980s, with its new development center in Röthenbach, Diehl amalgamates its capabilities. Against the background of new technologies on the one hand and changed threat scenarios on the other, Diehl turns to so-called intelligent ammunition in order to compensate through new business fields for the decline in traditional ammunition business. Automated assembly of the MLRS artillery rocket system at Mariahütte makes Diehl a system supplier with international reputation. This position is expanded further by acquisition of Bodenseewerk Gerätetechnik in Überlingen, a leading manufacturer of aeronautical equipment and prime contractor for the European AIM-9L air-to-air missile production program, making Diehl also a renowned avionics supplier.

The Diehl Company, a systems manufacturer for the Leopard-2, bought not only a 25 percent stake of the second-source prime contractor but also purchased two large tank factories in Eastern Germany. In doing this, it was responding to a new defense industry requirement, that is, the destruction of superfluous military equipment, in particular tanks and ammunitions. As a result of this, the share of defense out of total sales (2.38 billion DM, 2.58 billion DM and 2.9 billion DM from 1988-90) remained constant at 45 percent in 1988 and 1989 and even increased to 48 percent in 1990. Employment increased from 14,000 to 15,000 from 1988-90 and declined by only 600 in 1992, a recession year in Germany. Since 1991, and especially in 1992, this firm pursued a definitive conversion strategy by moving aggressively into commercial markets and definitely strove to cut its high dependency on defense sales as rapidly as is possible.

In the 1990s Junghans presents the world's first radio-controlled solar wristwatch and becomes the pacesetter in watch and clock technology. Through takeover of the AKO plants in Wangen and Kisslegg, Diehl becomes one of the large European suppliers of the white-goods industry. In the fields of household appliances and heating equipment, Diehl products are now present in almost every household. Parallel to this, activities in the field of semifinished products are expanded continuously - especially in rolled goods - through various takeovers abroad, but also through the large-scale expansion of production capacities. The conversion of the company to a family foundation to secure continued independence and autonomy accompanies a restructuring in three corporate divisions - "Metall", "Controls" and "VA Systeme".

The company has structured itself strategically and positioned itself such that the joint management of subsidiaries actually allows synergies. Hence, the Diehl Group believes that even under the conditions of global competition and at the threshold of the second century of its existence to convince its customers and partners of its high level of performance in the future as well.

Diehl BGT Defence plays a leading role in important European guided missile programs. The company is prime contractor of the new European air-to-air guided missile IRIS-T, which is being procured by the German, Greek , Italian, Norwegian, Austrian , Swedish and Spanish Air Forces as armament for their combat aircraft. The secondary missile IRIS-T SL, selected by the German Airforce and the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement for the tactical air-defense system MEADS, is an upgraded version of IRIS-T. A decision in favour of IRIS-T SL secures missile expertise in Germany and offers export prospects in the IRIS-T partner nations.

Apart from IRIS-T and IRIS-T SL, the product range in the capability category operational effectiveness comprises the anti-ship missile RBS 15 for the new corvette 130, the RAM system for self-defence of navy vessels, the precision-guided missile PARS 3LR for the TIGER support helicopter, the missile family Eurospike, the new-generation missile LFK NG for army air defence as well as the guided artillery rocket GMLRS. The joint venture Diehl Raytheon Missile Systeme, Überlingen, is responsible for modernization and marketing of the air-to-air guided missiles Sidewinder AIM-9L/M. Precision is guarantead by the ammunition portfolio comprising medium- and large calibre ammunition, sensor-fuzed ammunition, dispenser submunition, infantry ammunition as well as the bunker buster for the Bundeswehr and international armed forces.

Diehl BGT Defence develops and produces reconnaissance and warning systems for object protection (airports, public transportation facilities, port facilities, vessels, military camps) as well as for monitoring air space. The product range also includes active protection systems for armoured vehicles, non-lethal effectors for personal, object and convoy protection, laser self-protection systems for commercial and military aviation as well as smoke units for the protection of soldiers and vehicles in action.

Diehl Remscheid equips main battle tanks, armoured infantry combat vehicles, armoured personnel carriers/light tanks and artillery vehicles of the Bundeswehr and international armed forces with system tracks, suspensions and track drive sprockets. The Industriewerke Saar (IWS) possess decades of experience in repairing, upgrading and retrofitting tracked vehicles, armoured and soft-skinned wheeled vehicles as well as assemblies such as engines, gas turbines and transmissions for the Bundeswehr and international armed forces.

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Page last modified: 07-08-2012 19:00:35 ZULU