History

Launched on 1 April 1999, the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) brought together the RAF Maintenance Group Defence Agency (MGDA) and the Naval Aircraft Repair Organisation (NARO). DARA was established as a Trading Fund on 1 April 2001, offering expertise and ability to completely strip, replace, repair and rebuild everything from systems, components and equipment to whole aircraft, to both military and commercial organisations.

Drawing together the aircraft capabilities of both the RAF and Royal Navy under one organisation was a major challenge, which involved creating a single status workforce empowered to make decisions. By removing the 'command and control' ethos ingrained over many decades of military control and forging a business with a commercial focus delivered significant savings and benefits to DARA's core customers and the taxpayer.

Following a far-reaching MoD review into logistics support, a major outcome for DARA was the decision to concentrate deep level maintenance, repair and overhaul of key aircraft platforms at the RAF's Main Operating Bases. Conversely, the same review supported concentrating work on three rotary platforms at DARA's Fleetlands site. With so many changes now in the logistics support of the air environment, a strategic review of DARA concluded that it was clear DARA's Fast Jet and Engines businesses would be unviable and the decision was taken to close these businesses on 31 March 2007. The review also concluded that sale of DARA's Rotary and Components businesses might offer better value for defence and a more secure future for the workforce. The sale of these businesses concluded on 31 March 2008 with the Canadian based company, Vector Aerospace taking over operations on 1 April 2008.        

ABRO was also a Government Trading Fund but it was established in 1993 to repair and maintain military land equipments. 

Its origins lie in the historic provision of ordnance support to the fighting soldier, beginning in 1858 under the Corps of Armourers, and then in 1896 it was absorbed into the Army Ordnance Department and Corps. In 1904, the ordnance services were placed under the Quartermaster General and the post of Director Equipment and Ordnance Stores was established to represent these services within the War Office.

Not all the Army's static workshops were under the control of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and throughout the inter-war period, the huge increase in the quantity and complexity of equipment used by the Army in the Second World War required a dedicated Corps of electrical and mechanical engineers to effectively support it both in the field and at base. Thus REME was formed on 1 October 1942 and all the static workshops came under one Corps.

After the war, restructuring took place coinciding with the end of national service. This meant that workshops became largely civilian manned. Rationalisation has continued and involved a number of change programmes and defence costs reviews.

In 1992, following the logistic support review, the post of Director General Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was replaced by Director General Equipment Support (Army). The workshops then formed a part of the Equipment Support Organisation rather than REME.

In some respects, the most fundamental change came with the advent of the Government's Next Steps initiative. The management of all the static workshops were placed under one command in 1992. This command was seen as a prime candidate for Next Steps Agency Status. Subsequently, ABRO was launched on 1 April 1993 operating with increased levels of delegation and accountability afforded to Next Steps Agencies.

However, amidst the changes, one thing that remained constant throughout was the ability to provide the fighting soldiers and pilots of the Armed Forces with the best possible support.

Both ABRO and DARA operated as independent Trading Funds but in May 2007 Lord Drayson, the former Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, announced the creation of a new defence support group by the merger of both organisations. Following the revocation of both ABRO and DARA's Trading Fund Orders by means of secondary legislation, the new group was granted Trading Fund status and began formal trading on 1 April 2008. Its focus remains solely on the delivery of the Defence Industrial and Technology Strategies by being a flexible, responsive, operationally excellent organisation that provides a cost competitive in-house maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade capability in support of the Armed Forces.