High-frequency surveillance

Client Profile

BAE Systems is a tier-one supplier to the aerospace and defence market. They are focused on protecting people and national security by providing their customers with the necessary edge across air, maritime, land and cyber. With over 85,000 employees and facilities in over 40 countries, they aim to be the premier international aerospace and defence company.

BAE develop a range of technologies in Australia and recently opened a world-class high-frequency laboratory in South Australia.


Aerospace and defence




  • Supply Chain Management
  • Advanced Manufacturing services, inclusive of downstream value-added services
  • DFM support
  • Customised/ extensive NPI process

Technologies Used

  • Highly complex, high density PCBA’s with high copper load and extremely fine pitched components
  • Through hole assemblies including selective lead-free wave soldering and press fit connector technologies 
  • 3D-Xray and AOI analysis
  • Customised PCBA washing procedure 
  • Continuity testing
  • Altium CAD tools

The Brief

BAE’s HFS division design and manufacture world-class high-frequency surveillance products.

When BAE approached Extel, they had a few pain points that needed to be addressed:

  • They had several high-profile programs pending for global customers
  • Tight deadlines to achieve
  • Component lead-times were starting to blow out
  • Product development was ongoing and behind schedule

BAE needed a partner that could provide:

  • Supply Chain Management (Extel was able to leverage its global supply chain and secure all the required components easing BAE pressure and allowing them to finalise their designs).
  • Full lot tracking on all sourced components
  • Quick turnaround Advanced Electronic Manufacturing (Having secured all the necessary kit, Extel was able to provide rapid manufacturing support for BAE’s initial build of products.)
  • Design for Manufacturing (DFM) support

Technical and legislative/regulatory factors:

  • BAE requires all their suppliers to be DISP (Defence Industry Security Program) accredited (DISP helps business to get the maintain the right security requirements when delivery defence contracts and tenders.)
  • Extel worked closely with the Defence Industry Security Officer (DISO) and BAE’s Security Officers to meet the standards required
  • All products are required to be manufactured to IPC Class 3 standard
  • Boards to be conformal coated to XXXXX Standard
  • Customer-specific NPI process – process validation required for each individual NPI
  • All components need to be lot tracked for full traceability

Core project objectives:

The overall goal was to provide BAE with a quality product on schedule, setting them up for success and giving them the platform to secure and launch their programs.

  • Provide supply chain support in securing all approved components ahead of the initial run of PCBA’s, including quick turnaround material quotes
  • Leverage Extel’s global supply chain to source components at competitive pricing
  • Leverage Extel’s best-in-class component engineering team to conduct a full BOM scrub to provide BAE with feedback on hard to source and obsolete items
  • Provide secure warehousing and the required storage conditions for all BAE components
  • Provide quick turnaround high-quality manufacturing at competitive pricing out of Extel’s world-class Melbourne facility
  • Manufacturing reports and DFM feedback from Extel’s highly skilled engineering team

Project risks/constraints:

  • Complex quoting process which required a competitive quote with a fast turnaround
  • Minimise LT issues while maintaining the integrity of the supply chain, sourcing from approved suppliers only
  • Alternative component suggestions would need to be exact drop-in replacements 
  • Risks associated with manufacturing high-complexity, high-compliance mil-spec boards
  • Mitigate potential first pre-production / production run issues. Providing quick DFM feedback so that BAE can implement the necessary changes and still deliver on time 
  • Provide flexibility in manufacturing to cope with the inevitable design and BOM changes due to on-going development work
  • Ensure the FAI process meets the required BAE standard

Strategies we used to achieve the overall project and the core objectives:

  • Set up executive project team and steering committee to drive internal initiatives including DISP and engage senior management at BAE
  • Successful implementation of the DISP accreditation 
  • Agreed commercial terms and conditions 
  • Dedicated program manager 
  • Weekly technical and commercial meetings with the client to discuss progress and supply chain challenges, technical issues and provide DFM feedback 
  • Best-in-class IPC staff training to meet the exact BAE standards 
  • Investment in the latest manufacturing technology

Strategies taken to mitigate and/or manage risks/constraints identified in The Brief:

  • Set up executive team to provide focus and support throughout the quoting process 
  • Took over management of BAE’s supply chain 
  • Engage with tier 1 supply chain partners
  • Material sourced from approved suppliers only.
  • Enabled LOT tracking for full component traceability 
  • Provided support by holding inventory at Extel for future builds 
  • Weekly client meetings with program management, engineering and operations 
  • Provide BAE access to Extel’s component engineering team


The Outcome

As a result of this project, BAE has been successful in implementing multiple client programs, and Extel has been awarded a long-term contract to supply product to BAE’s HFS division.

BAE has enjoyed a number of technical, operational, and strategic advantages:

  • Provided BAE with a platform to successfully launch multiple customer programs
  • Provide BAE with highly complex and reliable PCBA’s
  • DFM input and support from Extel allowed BAE to improve their designs for scalable manufacturing
  • Integrated supply chain solutions
  • Provided BAE with a platform to successfully launch multiple customer programs
  • Provided competitive scalable manufacturing in country of origin for local content requirements
  • Full turn-key service from Supply Chain Management, DFM support, quick turnaround just in time manufacturing, service and repair support
  • Competitive, scalable local manufacturing in a world class mil-spec facility


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