LONDON — Saab has boosted its footprint in the artificial intelligence sector with the acquisition of British specialists BlueBear Systems.
The British company is a leading provider of AI-enabled autonomous swarm systems and command-and-control systems.
No financial details of the acquisition have been released.
BlueBear had a turnover of £8 million, or $10 million, last year and employs 65 people at a site near Bedford in southern England.
Micael Johansson, president and CEO of Saab, said the acquisition is another step towards ensuring the company sustains its competitive position in key international markets.
“BlueBear, as world-leading provider of AI-enabled autonomous swarm systems for complex defense and security applications, is a good fit with our approach of leveraging emerging technologies in the fields of autonomous systems and AI,” Johansson said in a statement announcing the takeover.
As part of Saab’s AI effort, BlueBear will become a center for rapid concept development, providing expertise and scaling-up innovation, according to the Saab statement.
Typical of BlueBear’s work in the fast-moving AI sector is a July 11 announcement that the company, along with SeeByte, a software developer for naval drones, had secured a British Ministry of Defence contract to investigate and build a safe architecture for mixed multi-domain swarms of robotic autonomous systems.
Saab already has some experience with AI-related technology through its 9LV naval combat management system, especially in its Swedish and Australian business units supporting local navies deploying that system on their ships, said Dean Rosenfield, Saab UK group managing director. “This is an important technology area for Saab and we will continue to expand our reach internationally in that regard but also work with others in AI, as partnerships are very much how Saab works.”
The BlueBear acquisition comes as Saab continues a period of organic and non-organic expansion, bringing the company’s U.K. personnel footprint from a bit over 100 in 2022 to 400 now, Rosenfield added.
Saab occupies rank 33 in this year’s Defense News Top 100 tabulation of the world’s biggest defense companies, posting defense-sector revenue of $3.7 billion in 2022.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.