Title: New wins at L-3 MAPPS
Sub-title: This world leader in marine controls systems has a surprising range of capabilities and is poised for growth.
Montreal-based L-3 MAPPS is entering 2010 with wind in its sails. Late last month the company announced that is was partnering with US-based affiliates on a $40 million contract to replace machinery control systems on the American navy’s T-AOE Fast Combat Support Ships.
According to Rangesh Kasturi, L-3 MAPPS’s vice-president (marketing and sales), the deal, which will see the company provide gas turbine controls and dynamic analysis for propulsion systems, represents an important step. “This first contract with US Military Sealift Command provides an excellent opportunity to do business with a highly demanding client and sets the stage for future initiatives down the line.”
The T-AEO Fast Combat Support Ships announcement was just one of a series of new wins for versatile L-3 MAPPS. The company also recently announced an order to supply Swiss power generator Axpo AG with updates for its Beznau full scope simulator and that it would supply a second full scope training simulator to South African-based Eskrom’s nuclear power station.
Marine control systems and simulations
Yet despite its wide ranging capabilities, defence sector players know L-3 MAPPS more for its marine control and simulations technology. Over the years L-3 MAPPS, a division of the L-3 Marine & Power Systems group (which in turn reports to its US-based L-3 Communications parent) has pioneered countless additional technological advances in marine automation, of which the Canadian navy has been a big beneficiary.
A prime example is L-3 MAPPS’s pioneering work on Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS), which it supplies to navies world-wide. IPMS systems substantially improve ship efficiency and effectiveness by providing integrated monitoring and control of propulsion, electrical functions, auxiliaries and damage control machinery and systems.
According to Kasturi, a variety of features can be integrated into ship-board IPMSs based on client needs. These include On-Board Training Systems (OBTS), Battle Damage Control Systems (BDCS), Digital Closed Circuit
Television (CCTV) Systems and Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) systems.
L-3 MAPPS, an offshoot of CAE, first came on the radar screen when it implemented the Canadian Navy’s Shipboard Integrated Machinery Control System (SHINMACS) concept. In late 2006, Peter Dawson, a long-time industry veteran with vast international experience was appointed L-3 MAPPS president and since then, contract wins have, if anything, intensified.
Early last year, L-3 MAPPS inked a $73 million deal to upgrade Integrated Platform Management Systems on Canada’s twelve Halifax-class patrol frigates. According to Kasturi, work on the project, which was one of the largest power control systems contracts ever awarded, started 14 months ago, has been proceeding on schedule. Once the first upgraded ship is delivered, likely later this year, the Canadian navy will benefit from times savings and vastly increased functionality.
Other promising projects are the company’s win of the Victoria-class Fire Detection System upgrade contract, upgrade work on the four Iroquois-class destroyers and its supply of Interactive Incident-board Battle Damage Management Systems (IIBMS), and other commercial off the shelf solutions that L-3 MAPPS offers.
In short, all indications are that L-3 MAPPS is on a roll. Not surprisingly for a company that has operating units in the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Malaysia, much of that rolling has been done in export markets. According to company officials, L-3 MAPPS technology and products are now being used by 18 navies around the world. But they aren’t finished yet.
“We have been working extremely hard in recent months,” said Kasturi, a native of Bangalore, who had just returned from the DEFEXPO 2010 show in India, one of L-MAPPS’s many promising export markets. “We are in the midst of bidding on several promising contracts and we see opportunities everywhere.”
Last May, L-3 India/L-3 MAPPS won the competition to supply the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) as well as the Navigation/Integrated Bridge System (IBS) for the four new P28 Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvettes being built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers in Kolkata. This represents an unprecedented level of integration for the Indian Navy and also one of the most advanced systems anywhere in the world. The deal also paves the way for L-3 MAPPS to grab an even bigger share of what are expected to be significant purchases by the Indian navy in coming years, as it seeks to protect its supply routes in the India Ocean and beyond.
A positive medium-term outlook
Despite L-3 MAPPS’s recent spurt of activity and successes, all indications are that even better days lie ahead. According to company officials, synergies created by successes such as delivering high-fidelity power plant simulations to leading global utilities, expertise in supplying plant computer systems for Canadian heavy water reactors and targeted controls and simulation solutions to the space sector, help all L-3 MAPPS’s product lines develop both better and faster.
Right now though, Kasturi remains focused on defence sector opportunities, both internationally and here at home. Here in Canada there are a slew of new procurements expected to come on-stream in coming years, which L-3 MAPPS seems ideally suited to play a role in. These include the Joint Support Ships, coast guard mid-shore patrol vessels and ice-breakers, Arctic offshore patrol ships, Canadian Surface Combatant and the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel (MCDV) upgrades.
Skeptics would argue that many of these projects have been on the shelf for a long time, and they are inching along with agonizing slowness. But Kasturi remains optimistic. “These are huge purchase contracts, which represent hardware that is going to be with us for a long time,” said the veteran defence sector expert. “It is far better that the Canadian navy takes its time and makes the right decisions. If they do, they will have excellent kit at their disposal, which will play a key role in Canada’s defence strategy during the coming decades.”
Name: L-3 MAPPS
Parent company: L-3 Communications
Key contacts: Peter Dawson, Rangesh Kasturi
Locations: Montreal Canada, the United States, India and Malaysia
Products: Control and simulation solutions for the marine, power generation and space sectors.
Number of employees: 250
Peter Diekmeyer (Peter@peterdiekmeyer.com) is Canadian Defence Review’s Quebec Bureau Chief.
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