MBDA Pushing Wider European Defense Cooperation in Missiles
MBDA is stepping up efforts to consolidate Europe’s missile industry, on the back of last November’s Anglo-French Defence Declaration. This pact nominated the company–already a four-nation European industrial combine owned by BAE Systems (37.5 percent), EADS (37.5 percent) and Finmeccanica (25 percent)–as “a test case” for further integration, according to CEO Antoine Bouvier.
France and the UK “have accepted a certain measure of mutual dependence, because they agree that missiles are a key element of operational sovereignty, and we canÕt afford a short-term view,” Bouvier said.
France is following the UK example by defining, agreeing and funding with industry a program of future developments, he added. He said that MBDA was also promoting this approach to the German and Italian governments. MBDA will establish its own company in Spain this year. “We need critical mass, since European defense budgets are shrinking,” he said, but added that the company had not yet talked to Thales about missile consolidation.
The UK program has been known as Team Complex Weapons. It started in 2008 when jointly funded assessments were agreed for six missile projects, including air-surface weapons for helicopters and combat jets. Of these six, one has now been approved for production, and assessments of two more will be completed this year.
MBDA reported revenues of €2.8 billion for 2010, with exports accounting for one-third, although no significant new export orders were received last year. The company reported that Spain had now joined the UK, France and Sweden in committing to production of the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, which will arm the Gripen, Rafale and Eurofighter.