A GLOBAL defence firm operating in the North-East has forecasted a return to revenue growth.

Cobham, which has a base at Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA), saw half-year profits drop 14 per cent to £118m as a result of the tough conditions in the US defence market.

However, bosses said it is on track to grow organic revenues by mid-single digits in 2015, by increasing its exposure to commercial markets.

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The company recently struck the biggest deal in its 80-year history when it paid £548m for US-based Aeroflex, which is developing 5G networks smartphones and tablets.

In the UK, Cobham uses Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft, which operate equipment emulating jammed radar and communication systems and work as targets for gun and missile firing.

Bob Murphy, chief executive, said the firm's commercially driven businesses were now the single biggest contributor to revenues, with 38 per cent of the total.

He added the group's order book was slightly lower than at the end of last year at £2.14bn, while its order intake fell by a quarter to £728million due to non-repeat of some orders.

Earlier this year, The Northern Echo revealed Cobham was making up to 30 staff redundant in a move to switch its flight inspection services to Bournemouth Airport.

However, bosses confirmed it would continue operating in the North-East, providing training for the Ministry of Defence.

Its flight inspection division, which created about 20 roles in Bournemouth, includes engineering flight checks and inspections for instrument landing systems.