100 years of Ultra

We have been solving our customers’ most complex problems for over 100 years… and we’re ready for the next 100

Our story began in 1920 when Edward Rosen set up a small Electronics factory in West London.

Following our recent centenary celebrations, we look back at some of our most historic milestones...

  • In 1903 the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada', now part of Ultra Intelligence & Communications, is founded by Guglielmo Marconi. The Prime Minister of Canada awards the company a multi-year contract to build coastal wireless stations in Canada for the safety of ships and to improve communications with England
  • Ultra TCS’ radios receive the Titanic distress call on the night of April 14, 1912
  • In 1920 the original Ultra Electronics Company is started by Teddy Rosen as Edward E. Rosen & Co. manufacturing high quality headphones at a small factory in West London
  • In 1939 Ultra begins building tails and bomb doors for the Short Stirling aircraft
  • In 1940 Ultra TCS designs the CD-12 quick deployment radio to support the Canadian Army and the FR-12 Navy variant, maintaining a lifeline to England, which was facing Germany alone in 1940 and 1941
  • In 1961 Ultra begins manufacturing sonobuoys, including the “Jezebel” and “Mini-Jezebel” product lines
  • In 1965 Ultra TCS designs the first digital Radio Relay for tactical use in a joint defence sharing agreement between Canada and the United States
  • The Dowty Group buys out Ultra Electronics Ltd. In 1977
  • In 1992 Forensic Technology’s Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) is introduced, the world's most advanced ballistic identification solution
  • In 1993 Ultra is subject of a management buyout, which was led by Julian Blogh, and involved seven Dowty Group plc companies to form the Dowty Group Electronic Systems Divisions
  • In 1994 Ultra is awarded two major contracts to fit the Submarine Command System to all UK Nuclear Submarines
  • In 1995 Ultra celebrates its first overseas acquisition as it acquires Maritime Systems (now part of Ultra Maritime), based in Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Ultra receives its first major order from the US DoD in 1995 for the supply of the HiPPAG system, providing a breakthrough into the fighter jet market
  • The Company floats on the London Stock Exchange on 3 October 1996. The placing at 250p per share was subscribed 2.5 times for the 34.3m ordinary shares on offer. At close of the first day’s trading, the shares had risen to 286.5p, a premium of 36.5p over the placing price and a market capitalisation of Ultra at over £180m
  • In 1996 Ultra is awarded the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for the application of Noise Control to aircraft cabins, recognising the innovation and success in applying the technology to the reduction of noise levels in aircraft passenger cabins
  • In 1997 Ultra announces its new US structure which sees the formation of Ultra Electronics Inc, the US Holding Company and Ultra Electronics Defense Inc., which controls the national security interests of US businesses operating in the defence sector
  • In 1998 Ultra acquires PMES and USSI (now part of Ultra Maritime). USSI brings with it a long heritage of sonobuoy systems development and production, establishing Ultra the largest producer of sonobuoys in the world
  • In 1998 Ultra is awarded sonobuoy contracts for several worldwide navies, including the UK, US, Taiwan, and Australia
  • The one millionth Ultra sonobuoy is manufactured in Greenford in 1999 and a celebratory reception involves a flypast by a Nimrod from RAF Kinloss
  • First production sonobuoys are delivered to the US Navy in 2000
  • In 2000 Ultra positions itself on the Royal Navy’s ASTUTE Class Submarine, providing the main static converter, combat management system equipment and the degaussing system
  • It’s 2001, with increasing sonobouy orders, Ultra now supplies more than 50% of the world’s requirement for sonobuoys
  • In 2002 Ultra is selected to supply bow sonar systems to the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 Destroyer, establishing Ultra as a strategic supplier of sonar systems to the UK’s armed forces
  • Ultra is awarded sonobuoy contracts for the US Navy, taking US sonobuoy production to 5 million in 2002
  • In 2003 Ultra secures a position on the next generation Joint Strike Fighter programme
  • Ultra delivers its 2000th radio to South Korea in 2003
  • In 2005 Ultra is selected by the US Navy to demonstrate key performance parameters of an advanced torpedo defence system to protect its fleet
  • Ultra secures its position on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” jet in 2005, as it is selected to supply key electronic elements of the Wing Ice Protection System
  • Ultra lists as the 245th largest company on the London Stock Exchange in 2005
  • In 2006, the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft flies for the first time. This platform is fitted with multiple Ultra equipment including the HiPPAG (High Pressure Pure Air Generator) and Engine Ice Protection Control Equipment
  • In 2007, production of 573 and 565 sonobuoys begins in Halifax, Nova Scotia, marking Canada’s entry into multi static expendable capability. The business is now approaching its 2 millionth produced buoy
  • In 2008 Ultra Maritime is awarded contract to design and commission an integrated command and control platform for the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • In 2008 Ultra Maritime formally signs a contract covering the supply of three integrated sonar systems for the Royal Australian Navy’s new Air Warfare Destroyers, heralding the start of a new phase in the development of the Group as it builds a capability in Australia and Asia Pacific
  • Ultra Intelligence & Communications wins its largest contract to date in 2009; to deliver a complete command and control system to the Bahrain Defence Force
  • In 2009 Ultra Forensic Technology announces the virtual Comparison Microscope, capable of rendering hard-to-see marks with never before seen precision and clarity
  • Ultra Maritime wins the Netherlands MAPS programme as part of the RNLN M-Class upgrade, marking Ultra’s first fielded high-performance Variable Depth Sonar in 2010
  • In 2012 the first production submarine Reactor Control and Instrumentation update, designed and built by Ultra was successfully installed and commissioned at the Royal Navy’s land based nuclear reactor in Dounreay, Scotland.
  • Ultra Intelligence & Communications designs the first military MIMO and multi-mission heterogeneous networking military radio in 2013, redefining high-capacity tactical communications for the US Army
  • In 2015 Ultra makes its largest acquisition to date as it acquires Herley - formally Kratos Defense & Security Solutions and now part of Ultra Intelligence & Communications
  • Ultra’s Fuel Tester is integrated on to the USA Presidential Aircraft in 2016
  • In 2017 Ultra Maritime’s Magnetic Sensor technology is successfully used in the Cassini Mars space mission to Saturn
  • In 2017, Ultra Intelligence & Communications, with École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), is awarded by Québec’s association for research & innovation development (ADRIQ) for the excellence of its Research & Innovation partnership.
  • Ultra Maritime’s 7 millionth Sonobuoy is produced in 2018 (since 1954)
  • In 2018 Ultra Maritime is selected to provide the towed array solution on the Underwater Warfare Suite Upgrade (Canadian Halifax Class Frigates), an evolution of our world-leading inline Variable Depth Sonar technology
  • Ultra Maritime wins the role as Anti-Submarine Warfare lead for the Canadian Surface Combatant program, the Ultra Group’s biggest single programme to date, in 2019
  • Ultra is awarded a contract to develop and produce the US Navy’s Next Generation Surface Search Radar qualification systems in 2019
  • In 2020, Ultra launches a new brand and logo. Our new brand was designed to reflect a new era for our business and a commitment to deliver for our customers from the start to the very end of everything we do.
  • 2020 was a year of success for Ultra’s Communications Business Unit. New ORION radio contracts were awarded by the US Army, US Navy, US Marines and US Special Forces to ensure interoperability in all environments for the US forces.

We have been solving our customers’ most complex problems for over 100 years… and we’re ready for the next 100…

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