Local intelligence-gathering firm sold to Boeing for undisclosed sum

Conquest also to develop software for defense giant

January 11, 2003|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

Boeing Co. said yesterday that it would acquire Conquest Inc., an intelligence-gathering company in Annapolis Junction, as it works to better integrate the diverse functions of its business.

Boeing did not disclose financial details of the deal, but said it expects the transaction to be completed by the end of this quarter.

Under the agreement, Conquest will become a part of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. Conquest will be renamed Boeing Advanced Information Systems -Maryland Operations.

Boeing officials said Conquest would help the aerospace company do a better job of tying together all of its defense and intelligence operations.

Boeing is the world's largest manufacturer of military aircraft, commercial jetliners and satellites.

"Those in space, people on the ground, the ships at sea, the aircraft - everyone needs to have a common picture of what happens," said Boeing spokesman Walt Rice.

"The individual soldier or the commander needs to be able to pull the information they need from the network."

Conquest will gather intelligence and develop software systems to help Boeing use that intelligence.

"They are very good at what they do," Rice said. "That is a piece of the puzzle that we at Boeing don't have."

Conquest executives said the Boeing deal gives them more opportunities in the defense industry.

The company grew significantly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, with revenue rising from $16 million in 2001 to $60 million last year.

"We have experienced a lot of growth in recent years, and we wanted to continue that and to have a larger impact with our customers," said Ann Beard, Conquest's director of communications.

"To do that, we needed more resources behind us. We wanted to be able to bid on larger contracts."

Conquest will retain its 180 employees after the acquisition. "Nothing in terms of personnel is going to change," Beard said.

Analysts said companies like Conquest are becoming bigger players in the defense industry, as the military is using increased intelligence gathering to operate more efficiently. For instance, information gathering can better determine a military target.

"There's only so many fighters you need. There are only so many bullets you need," said Steven Artuso, an analyst with Pittsburg Research. "Why shoot five bullets when you can shoot one?"

"You need certain ways to communicate, so the direct cruise missiles can perform as efficiently as possible on the battlefield."

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