Bofor’s tradition of excellence
With a history that spans three centuries, including a period of expansion and development under the creator of the Nobel Prize, BAE Systems Bofors is one of the world’s leading developers of advanced precision weapon systems.
Part of the BAE Systems Group and based in Sweden, the company is engaged in the development and qualified assembly of a number of smart weapon products in the fields of intelligent ammunition, combat vehicle turrets, indirect fire, and naval gun and air defence gun systems.
Stellan Dunderberg, production director at the company elaborates on its extensive history: “Bofors is now more that 350 years old, and has been producing defence material for over 100 years. Even before the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 the company was manufacturing its first products. In 1894 Alfred Nobel, the creator of the Nobel Prize, acquired Bofors and initiated a series of new investments and modernisations. Later, during the 1930s company engineers developed the Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun, one of the weapons that played a decisive role in World War II.
“Today the business is a defence industry company that has a unique, and world-leading competence for co-ordinating research and development for the entire ground forces market,” Stellan continues. “We are the world-leaders in the development of selected weapon systems for advanced precision engagement and advanced systems for leadership training. Our key strengths of quality, reliability and safety, together with our state-of-the-art technology, ensure that the Bofors name continues to be well respected throughout the world. Although we are a large player in the global market, the Swedish Defence Forces are one of our largest customers.”
Operating within the BAE Systems Group, Bofors is entirely involved in development and qualified assembly of a range of products, and as a consequence, its resources are dedicated to product innovation: “More than 60 per cent of our employees are directly involved in R&D, and activities in this area are continuously rising,” says Stellan. “Customer service is very important, and we work very closely with all of our clients during the entire development phase.”
Stellan elaborates on some of the company’s latest developments: “Excalibur is a 155mm trajectory correctible artillery shell that can deliver different types of warheads, and has a range of approximately 60 kilometres. The shell corrects itself in flight towards the pre-programmed trajectory by using the GPS-supported navigation and guidance system. Additionally, the new 57 Mk3 naval gun has been selected for new programs in the US, and also has several other international customers.”
In further recognition of its leading development capabilities for the home forces, the business has recently been awarded a contract worth around SEK 100 million with the Swedish Defence Forces: “The Archer is a wheeled, self-propelled 155mm L52 automatic howitzer that will feature state-of-the-art tactical and technical performance,” Stellan explains. “With the current ammunition available today the range of the weapon is 40 kilometres, and using the new Excalibur shell the range extends 60 kilometres.
“When deployed it will hold 40 onboard rounds, 20 of which are loaded in a fully automated magazine, and the crew of three to four men operates within an armour-protected cabin,” he continues. “The gun can reach road-speeds of up to 70 km/h and is capable of being air-transportable in the new A400 M aeroplane.”
Based on the successful, towed FH77 B, the new 155mm L52 automatic howitzer will feature stateof- the-art tactical and technical performance. The system will be one of the leading next generation, self-propelled guns and features excellent transportation capabilities by rail, country roads or air, provides high-levels of protection for its crew, has extremely high weaponry performance and needs very low operational and maintenance costs when compared to existing artillery systems.
In order to improve its manufacturing processes, Bofors has recently invested heavily in improving its facilities: “Manufacturing efficiency is of vital importance, and it was of great strategic importance that we developed it further,” Stellan comments. “One of the ways of improving this was by putting the entire process under one roof, in order to improve efficiency in terms of suppliers, assembly and engineers.
The real estate owner invested approximately $2 million in this project, and by placing the entire operation of qualified assembly in one facility, we have achieved our goal of speeding up the process,” says Stellan. “As a result of this project, Bofors’ operations regarding industrialisation, production and after-sales are now integrated in one building to improve co-operation throughout the entire life cycle of the product.”
Due to the nature of its customers and products, it is essential for Bofors to place considerable emphasis on maintaining the highest quality standards. The company’s quality system is certified in accordance with ISO 9001, TickIT and AQAP2110, whilst the business aims to have quality characterise all of its operations. In accordance with the Swedish Institute for Quality (SIQ), Bofors aims to ensure that its processes do not cause personal or environmental damage, that its products are designed for safe handling and have the lowest possible negative effect on the environment, and that its creates a working environment that encourages personal development and confidence.
Bofors operates as apart of the BAE Systems Group, the world’s leading global defence and aerospace company. Engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, and on land and sea, BAE Systems operates across five continents, and has customers and development partners in over 100 countries worldwide. The business prides itself on innovation, and has been responsible for many of the leading technological breakthroughs of the last century.
Reflecting on BAE Systems Bofors, and its plans for the future, Stellan is confident that the company can remain a world leader in the development of advanced weapons systems: “Looking to the future, we see expansion in the areas of ground forces and selected weapon systems for advanced precision engagement. We have world-leading competence in research and development in both of these capabilities. There are a number of exciting opportunities on the horizon and if we are successful we will definitely see growth,” he concludes.
BAe Systems Bofors AB
Products: Advanced weapons systems