Thales Air Defence


Thales Air Defence Limited
HeadquartersBelfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Number of employees
492 (2017)
ParentThales Group

Thales Air Defence Limited, formerly Shorts Missile Systems, is a defence contractor based in Belfast, Northern Ireland producing short range air defense missiles.

Shorts Missile Systems (SMS) was established as a joint venture between Shorts' owners Bombardier and Thomson-CSF in 1993. In 2000 Thomson-CSF became the sole owner. In the same year Thomson-CSF was renamed Thales Group and in 2001 Shorts Missile Systems was renamed Thales Air Defence Limited (TADL).

TADL products have been deployed by 56 armed forces around the world. The company employs around 492 people in Northern Ireland.[1] The company also operates a remote facility in rural County Down, between Ballynahinch and Downpatrick where missiles are tested and stored.[2]


Shorts Brothers' missile division was formed in 1952.[3][4] In 1993, this became Shorts Missile Systems (SMS) a joint venture between Shorts' owners Bombardier and Thomson-CSF.[5] In 2000 Thomson-CSF bought Bombardier's 50% share to become the sole owner.[6] In the same year Thomson-CSF was renamed Thales Group;[7] consequently in 2001 Shorts Missile Systems was renamed Thales Air Defence Limited (TADL).[8]

The then Shorts Missile Systems was a partner in Raytheon's Future Medium Range Air-Air Missile (FMRAAM) project, which was to replace the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile used by European air forces. In May 2000 the UK selected the MBDA Meteor to fulfil the requirement.


Javelin is a man-portable surface-to-air missile and is being replaced by Starstreak.
A High Velocity Missile (HVM) used in the air defence role. Used in many roles with man-portable, attack helicopter and vehicle mounted variants.
Built by Thales under licence from the United States for the Ministry of Defence. Hellfire is designed to defeat tanks and other individual targets while minimizing the exposure of the launch vehicle to enemy fire.
Ordered by the MoD as the FASGW(L) missile on 5 April 2011 to be operated by the Royal Navy's new Lynx Wildcat helicopter.[9]


See also


  1. ^ "Economic Impact of Thales in Northern Ireland" (PDF). July 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Stinson, James (23 September 2011). "Defence firm's pre-tax losses up". The Irish News.
  3. ^ Simpson, John (4 July 2008). "How the defence specialist is finding new markets". belfasttelegraph (in British English). Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  4. ^ Donne, Michael (16 December 1986). "Short in £225m Missile Deal". The Financial Times.
  5. ^ Bellamy, Christopher (2 March 1993). "Short joins French on missile". The Independent.
  6. ^ "BBC News | NORTHERN IRELAND | French takeover at NI missile firm". Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Thomson-CSF changes name to Thales". Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  8. ^ "Our UK locations". Thales Group. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  9. ^ "First production contract for Thales's Lightweight Multi-role Missile announced". Thales. 5 April 2011. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011. Thales