Raytheon Australia History

Raytheon has had a strong relationship with the Australian Defence Force since the early 1950's supplying sensors and weapon systems. However, for many years the company's presence was limited to a country manager and supporting administrative staff.

As Australian Government defence policy matured to foster and grow an indigenous defence industry, Raytheon Company responded by investing in Australia and establishing a landed company, Raytheon Australia.

When Raytheon Australia was established in 1999 it ranked as the country's 27th largest defence contractor. Over a decade later, it has grown to become one of the largest defence companies in the Australian market.

From a handful of staff a decade ago, Raytheon Australia has grown to over 1200 employees today. This has been achieved through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions.

In 1999, the company acquired a small local aerospace company, Aerospace Technical Services, which specialised in aeronautical engineering and flight test.

This was followed in May 2000, when Boeing Naval Systems were acquired with the novation of a Collins Submarine combat system contract from Boeing Australia.

A further addition took place in 2003 when Honeywell Aerospace and Defence Services was acquired while in 2007, the Qantas Defence Services Avionics Business Unit contract was added to the Raytheon Australia portfolio.

In 2010, Raytheon Australia expanded further by acquiring business assets previously owned by Compucat Research Pty. Ltd to enhance Raytheon's ability to meet the future information security needs of the Australian intelligence community.

Important contract wins have also occurred over the past decade. These include:

  • an Electronic Warfare Training Services Contract for the Royal Australian Navy in 2001;
  • a contract for the Collins Submarine Replacement Combat Systems in 2002;
  • an Avionics Workshop contract win in 2005;
  • confirmation as the Air Warfare Destroyer Combat System Systems Engineer in 2007;
  • a Navy Aviation Retention and Motivation Initiative contract win in 2007 followed on by a new four year contract in 2011;
  • a 2011 contract to provide tactical data radios as the first phase in providing the ADF with the land elements of an integrated battlespace communications system; and
  • a contract to provide operations, maintenance and support services for the Harold E Holt Naval Communications Station in Exmouth, WA.

As the company grew it opened facilities around the country. Today, Raytheon Australia has operations in every mainland capital as well as many regional centres such as Amberley, Nowra and Exmouth.

Raytheon chose Canberra, with its access to its military and political stakeholders, as the base for its Australian headquarters.

Along with strong growth in the company's operations and workforce, company sales in the Australian defence market has also grown considerably. From a turnover of around $50 million a decade ago, Raytheon Australia recorded a turnover of $735.5 million in 2012.

Early Days

Raytheon: A History of Global Technology Leadership

Throughout its more than 80-year history, Raytheon Company has been a leader in developing defence technologies and in converting those technologies for use in commercial markets. From its early days as a maker of radio tubes, its adaptation of World War II radar technology to invent microwave cooking, and its development of the first guided missile, Raytheon has successfully built upon its pioneering tradition to become a global technology leader.

The Roaring '20s

Raytheon Company was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the American Appliance Company in 1922. The first decade of modernism, the 1920s saw the advent of automobiles, radios and refrigerators. In the aftermath of World War I, the roaring '20s was a time that brought no real peace or economic security and yet people were energised by the prospects of modern technological advances. Emerging from the depths of a severe post-war depression was a breed of entrepreneurs with a driving ambition to succeed.

Physicist and Refrigerators

It is against this backdrop that the founders of Raytheon became business partners. Two former college roommates, Laurence K. Marshall and Vannevar Bush, formed the company with Charles G. Smith, a young scientist who had developed the prototype for a home refrigerator that used artificial coolants. Marshall, an engineer, businessman and trained physicist, and Bush, a scientist and professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with several other financial backers dreamed of prosperity and a potential market for their newly developed refrigerator.

Tune in the Radio

As is the case with so many other entrepreneurs, however, the product that launched the company never left the laboratory. Facing failure, it was Marshall and Bush who suggested revisiting an earlier idea young Smith had experimented with: a new kind of gaseous tube that would allow radios to be plugged into a wall socket and operate on electricity rather than batteries. The tube would overcome the need for two expensive, short-lived A and B batteries, the greatest shortcoming to widespread radio use at the time. By devising a way to replace the B battery with a tube, the small company not only beat the army of researchers and engineers of RCA, Westinghouse and other corporate giants, it produced a device that forced the entire radio industry into a new direction and made radios affordable and accessible to every household. Perfected and introduced to the public in 1925, the tube, known technically as a gaseous rectifier and marketed under the brand name Raytheon, brought in more than US$1 million in sales by the end of 1926 and positioned the company as a major contributor to the fast-growing radio tube market for nearly two decades.

Microwaves and Missile Defence

In the more than 80 years since, the company would become known for many more major technological advancements that have changed the course of world history. Among these innovations are the first commercial microwave ovens, miniature tubes for hearing aids, the Fathometer depth sounder, the mass production of magnetron tubes, early shipboard radar, the first successful missile guidance system, a space communications system, mobile radio telephones, the first combat-proven air defence missile system and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar.

What's in a Name?

In 1925, the year American Appliance Company began to take off, an Indiana company made it known that it held prior claim to the American Appliance Company name. Because of the success of the Raytheon radio tube, company officials at that time elected to extend the use of the name to describe the entire organisation, and the company's name was officially changed to Raytheon Manufacturing Company. "Ray" comes from "rai," an Old French word that means "a beam of light," while "theon" comes from the Greek language and means "from the gods." Furthermore, both the product and company name were deemed scientifically appropriate given groundbreaking research at the time on the mystery of the Wolf-Rayet star Zeta Puppis, which emitted bright ultraviolet lines believed to be the result of gaseous substances. Laboratory experiments by C.G. Smith on the source of these gases became the basis of crucial importance to his development of the company's radio tube.

Raytheon Australia

Today, Raytheon Australia employs over 1200 Australians across the country as part of a worldwide team of over 68,000. The growth from humble beginnings in Cambridge Massachusetts to a global presence has brought many changes in the company but the enterprising spirit and the constant drive to develop new technology are as strong today as they have ever been.