Thales Italia is, therefore, a single legal entity, bringing together experience and histories from companies coming from afar, such as Telettra, Alcatel, Face and Thomson Csf.
There are two fundamental chronological stages in the company’s history.
On 1 January 2004, with the merger of the following pre-existing companies, Thales Atm, Thales Avionics, Thales Communications, Thales Componenti and Thales Optronique into Thales Italia.
On 1 January 2009, with the incorporation of Thales E-Transactions and Thales Security Solutions & Services (businesses that merged with Thales after the transfer of the “Security solutions for the vertical sectors” branch of Alcatel-Lucent at the beginning of 2007) into the company structure. These two new arrivals reinforced the Group’s position in Italy in the security and transportation sectors. Thales Italia thereby unified all the Group’s activities in Italy into a single legal entity.
Under a single, homogeneous structure, the histories and skills of the various units with plenty of experience and a strong link with the areas in which they are located were therefore exploited to the full. There are at least five historic sites: Chieti, Milan (Gorgonzola and Vanzago), Florence (Sesto Fiorentino) and Varese (Vergiate). The “new” Thales Italia has a clear identity, a dynamic profile that is the result of various experiences which also have roots at a territorial level, a wide and varied heritage of industrial experience.
The history of the Thales site in Sesto Fiorentino began many years ago. At the start of the 1930s, an entrepreneurial initiative led to the establishment of SIETTE. The newly-founded company concentrated on the construction of electric and telephone lines for public operators, an entrepreneurial line coherent with the development processes of the whole country.
The growth of the investments in these sectors and the diffusion of the business throughout Italy created the prerequisite for the purchase of the American multinational ITT through the Italian company FACE STANDARD SIETTE. The purchase contributed to the development of the company in terms of skills (entry into the railway market) and range of action (the addition of foreign markets).
1998 saw the birth of a new legal entity, THOMSON-CSF Electronic Systems Italia, whose industrial site was in Chieti. But the history of the Chieti site dates back much further, to 1972. The creation of the Chieti site dates back to 1972 when TELETTRA, a company founded in 1946, global leader in the civilian telecommunications sector, decided to make its mark in the military telecommunications sector and create a Defence Systems Division.
The development of skills in the HF Radio sector and the acquisition of an important “1 kW HF Radio Stations” contract for the Italian Army, under the licence of THOMSON-CSF, contributed to making Chieti a “Centre of HF Radio Excellence” in Italy.
In the second half of the 1970s, alongside HF communication radio products, a new electronic war systems sector was also developed (HF Rhino Radio Jammers).
Since 1999, the Gorgonzola site has been home to the Radio Navigation and Air Traffic Control side of the business and, since 2002, has also dealt with mission critical IT systems.
The Radio Navigation side dates back to the Second World War, when FACE (Electrical Communications Equipment Factory) as it was then, supplied the Italian armed forces with radio transmission systems. Recovering a radio navigation system left by the American Navy at the port of Genoa, studying it and then reconditioning it technologically, alongside air transport establishing itself for civilian use, marked the start of the area of business that still today sees Thales holding 70% of the global market.
In September 2001, one employee was put in charge of developing the Ticketing and Fleet Management market in Italy. This resulted in Thales e-Transactions in Pogliano. The first significant contract arrived immediately, for the construction of 300 SAE systems for ATC Bologna between 2001 and 2002.
Victory in the Circumvesuviana tender in July 2002, officially awarded in 2006; collaboration with Ansaldo for the Metro Campania nord est underground, line 6; the tram system in Florence; the ticketing system for the Turin underground for the Olympics; and the regional system in Sardinia: these all confirm the success of the decision to develop the electronic ticketing offer in Italy.
The Thales Italia unit involved in aerospace originates from the Sfena Italia company, which was founded in Milan in 1985 as the Italian branch of Sfena France. In 1988, the site was moved to Vergiate to be geographically closer to the traditional aeroplane companies.
In 1989, the company changed its name to Sextant Avionique and 10 years later became Thomson-CSF Sextant Italia. 2001 saw the birth of Thales Avionics. In 2004, Thales Avionics Italia became part of the five companies in the group which merged to form Thales Italia.
The Vergiate site currently designs, develops, integrates and sells avionics systems for Italian aeroplane and helicopter companies, airlines, and both helicopter and aeroplane operators, also taking care of maintenance support and after-sales business.