QinetiQ has reported an operating profit increase of 20 percent in the last financial year, and says it has up to £200m to spend on acquisitions.

The company’s results were bolstered by the success of its Talon bomb disposal robot, which has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The North American market now accounts for 40 percent of QinetiQ’s overall business.

Underlying operating profit climbed 20 percent to £127m on revenues, up 19 percent to £1.37bn.

However, pre-tax profit was down from £89.3m to £51.4m, partly due to a charge of £32.6m in connection with restructuring of the company’s European, Middle Eastern and African operations.

Earlier this week, QinetiQ announced a new £202m contract to supply additional Talon robots and replacement parts to the US military.

The contract award was made by the Robotic Systems Joint Program Office, administered by the Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division.

It is a follow-on to the US$150m IDIQ awarded in the spring of 2007 that has now been fully funded.

Talon robots are used primarily to assist military personnel with the extremely dangerous job of detecting and disabling roadside bombs such as the improvised explosive devices planted by hostile forces to attack troops.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh