Celebrating Fifty Years

One Half Century of Great People and Technology

Over the last half century, patriots at Leonardo DRS have created a distinct technology edge for American troops in the U.S. and around the world. Since the company’s founding in 1969, tens of thousands of employees have perfected their craft each day with one unifying purpose in mind: to help defend those who defend all Americans and our allies.

The 50-year history of Leonardo DRS is defined by the company’s amazing people and technology. By helping the Navy sail fast and quiet, making the Army and Marine Corps more lethal, connected and protected, and preparing the Air Force to confront a range of threats, the people of Leonardo DRS from one generation to the next have given American warfighters a critical technology edge.

Leonardo DRS 50 Years Infographic

A snapshot of our highlights from the early years through today.

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Leonardo DRS anniversary brochure

Fifty years of innovation excellence.

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Leonardo DRS 50th anniversary video

From humble beginnings to a top mid-tier global defense company.

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Our Timeline

DRS co-founders stand with the company's AN/SQR-17 passive sonar detection system.From the outset, there was something unique and special about Leonardo DRS and its growing technology culture. “Patriotic young engineers were happy to join a small company with great technology that could make a difference,” Gross recalls. “We started out with a handful of people but a lot of potential and dedication.” Newman had a more personalized reflection: “I’m a poor boy from the Bronx who used the GI Bill to go to school and built a (then) $20 million company up from nothing. I believe in the American flag and the American way,” he said.

A small company with great technology that could make a big difference.

DRS begins operations when engineers Leonard Newman and David Gross open Diagnostic/Retrieval Systems. While they began only with a handful of Pentagon study contracts, the new firm quickly became a leader in passive submarine detection. Within a few years, the company was providing the U.S. Navy with the most advanced signal processing and display equipment of the time.

Future DRS business, the Defense and Electronics Group of Texas Instruments, gets research funding for the development of cooled detectors that would lead to production of fully operational mercury cadmium telluride focal plan arrays, a key material for infrared detectors.

DRS develops the first LAMPS signal processor (AN/SQS-45) with a built in recording device (RD-420). The processor could accept signals from sonobouys through a helicopter’s data link.

DRS is awarded milestone contract to provide U.S. Navy with AN/SQR-17 passive sonar systems to hunt for enemy submarines. At one point, AN/SQR-17 was deployed on more ships than any other passive sonar in the fleet.

Future DRS companies, including Cutler-Hammer which is acquired by Eaton in 1978 and DRS in 2002, have systems installed on Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines. The first sub in the class USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) is commissioned in 1976.

DRS’ signal processor, part of the AN/SQR-18 is deployed for the U.S. Navy’s Tactical Towed Array Sonar System program developed to detect, classify and track enemy submarines at far greater ranges than ever before.

Focused innovation in naval defense electronics drives growth.

1980 1980
DRS moves headquarters to Oakland, New Jersey, with annual revenue of $36 million and 400 employees.

DRS is listed on the American Stock Exchange, raising $33 million to invest for growth.

Future DRS companies, including Marlo Coil,
which is acquired by DRS in 2005, have systems installed on Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The first sub in the class USS Ohio (SSBN 726) is commissioned in 1981.

1982 1982
DRS forerunner company Consolidated Controls wins contract to redesign Nimitz-class aircraft carrier reactor control panel.

1984 1984
DRS acquires Precision Echo, developers of magnetic recording devices including
ruggedized tape recorders used by the military. Their RD-420 series of recorders was used with the AN/SQR-17 Sonar Signal Processing System.

1986 1986
DRS acquires Photronics, a leader in electro-optics technology used in U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force weapon fire-control and guidance systems, optical test and boresighting equipment.

1989 1989 
Future DRS companies have systems installed on Seawolf-class fast-attack submarines. The first sub in the class USS Seawolf (SSN 21) is commissioned in 1989.

Future DRS joint venture, Advanced Acoustic Concepts is launched, providing undersea warfare solutions.

1990 1990 
DRS sales declines and losses persist for three consecutive years. Authorization delays to start production on major sonar display contract causes revenues to slip from $70 million to $58 million and a loss of $11 million.

1991 1991 
DRS wins major contracts for Navy mission recorder systems and sonar assemblies as well as Army contract for Apache helicopter boresight equipment.

1992 1992 
DRS forerunner Metric Systems in Fort Walton Beach, Florida is awarded TOW (tube-launched optically-tracked wire-guided) missile launcher contract.

1993 1993 
DRS begins acquisition of elements of CMC Technology, a unit of Eastman Kodak Company and a leader in magnetic video recording technology.

DRS wins contracts for Navy sonar on-board trainer systems and display technology.

1994 1994 
The company appoints Mark S. Newman president and CEO.

DRS acquires Technology Applications and Services, a leader in information processing and displays, and Ahead Technology, a manufacturer of magnetic digital recording heads.

1995 1995 
DRS acquires Opto-Mecanik, Inc. producers of eye-safe laser range finders, night vision binoculars and sighting systems.

DRS is awarded multiyear contract to provide airborne recording systems for Navy aircraft.

1996 1996
DRS is selected prime contractor on tri-service program for high-speed video system to test how weapons separate after firing from aircraft.

DRS delivers range of electronic products to the U.S. Navy including AN/UYQ-65 Data Processing and Display Set consoles.

1997 1997 
The company changes its name to DRS Technologies, befitting its technology-rich portfolio and culture.

DRS acquires division of Spar Aerospace, a leader in defense electronics and commercial aerospace, and Hadland Photonics, a world leader in electronic imaging systems.

2001 2001 
DRS completes acquisitions of Boeing’s electro-optical uncooled technology and Lockheed Martin’s electro-mechanical units, catapulting the company to more than $500 million in annual sales eight years after establishing that target as a measurement to be a leading defense mid-tier company.

2002 2002 
The company begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DRS.

The company added battlefield computing to core technologies after acquisition of Paravant Computer Systems, Inc.

2003 2003 
DRS acquires Integrated Defense Technologies, leading provider of advanced electronics.

The company receives first of three Herschel Awards for infrared technology.

2004 2004 
DRS wins contracts to provide family of next-gen thermal weapon sights.

DRS systems are installed on Virginia-class attack submarines. The first sub in the class USS Virginia (SSN 774) is commissioned.

2005 2005 
DRS completes acquisition of Engineered Support Systems, a provider of technical and logistics support services.

DRS provides next-gen air combat training equipment for all of the U.S. military.

2007 2007 
DRS is selected to provide joint tactical terminals to the Army and infrared search and tracking systems for Canadian and Australian tanks and armored fighting vehicles.

2008 2008 
DRS Technologies is acquired by Italian aerospace and defense company Finmeccanica. 

DRS completes acquisition of Soneticom, a provider of signals intelligence geolocation systems, wireless communications protocols and digital signal processing.

Focused innovation in naval defense electronics drives growth.

2010 2010
DRS receives contract for vehicle surveillance suite from Australian Department of Defence.

DRS Sonar Solutions, a joint venture between DRS and Thales, purchases Advanced Acoustic Concepts; keeps AAC name.

William J. Lynn, former U.S. deputy secretary of defense, is appointed CEO of DRS Technologies and Finmeccanica North America. 

DRS launches smallest mid-wave infrared camera core in the world, weighing less than one pound.

2014 2014 
DRS is awarded contract for overhaul of Air Force Tunner aircraft cargo loader.

Company launches Polaris, its newest, smallest and most powerful tactical radio frequency tuner.

2015 2015
DRS successfully demonstrates first 10-micon high performance infrared sensors, key to next-generation night vision technology.

The company is awarded contracts for network communications, combat display systems for U.S. and Royal Australian Navy ships.

2017 2017 
DRS Technologies is formally renamed “Leonardo DRS” more closely reflecting its parent company heritage.

Leonardo DRS completes acquisition of Daylight Solutions, a leading developer and supplier of quantum cascade laser-based products and technology.

2018 2018 
Leonardo DRS achieves its fourth consecutive year of profitable growth.

Leonardo DRS awarded contracts to deliver 500 P5 combat training subsystems for the F-35 fighter air combat training system.

Interviews with the DRS Leaders