The MBDA missile advocates strengthening cooperation
The group believes that, by its very existence, it is an asset for European countries, which have sovereign access to a full range of missile systems.
Further unite European forces. This is the appeal launched this Wednesday by Eric Béranger, CEO of the missile manufacturer MBDA, on the sidelines of the presentation of the 2022 results. The electroshock caused by the war in ukrainewhich has led to increases in defense budgets on the old continent, must also, according to him, lead European states to cooperate more.
” The very existence of MBDA is an asset for France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain in an environment where the use of state violence is becoming more and more widespread. “says Eric Béranger. And, at a time when the war in Ukraine “challenges us to think about what kind of capabilities we will need in the future“. New armaments such as hypersonic missiles, prowl munitions, drones, make better air defense imperative.
In order to support Ukraine but also to prepare for any eventuality, including a high intensity conflict, the defense industry must organize itself to develop and produce more and faster. ” We need technology and mass but also speed, in the face of inflation and supply chain tensions“, insists the CEO of MBDA (which manages an ecosystem of 1,600 subcontractors in Europe).
Constraints from foreign countries
This implies mobilizing large budgets. However, argues Eric Béranger, “ European states, which are middle powers, cannot finance such an effort on a national basis. MBDA is a valuable tool of European sovereignty and cooperation “, he pleads. Created in 2001, the first European missile is by construction a “cooperative” company. It is indeed the result of the merger between Matra Bae Dynamics, Aerospatiale Matra Missiles (also resulting from a merger) and Alenia Marconi Systems. Co-owned by Airbus (37.5%), the British BAE Systems (37.5%) and the Italian Leonardo (25%), MBDA “ gives all European nations access to a full range of complex weapon systems, operating from the land battlefield (anti-tank) to the naval, including air combat, ground-to-air defense, and even deterrence (Editor’s note : ASMPA missiles) », develops Eric Béranger.
Without cooperation, he insists, Europe would not have such armaments at the highest world level. “ Europeans would have to make choices, by buying certain capacities off the shelves from foreign powers, and would be subject to constraints from supplier countries, in terms of the use of these capacities “, he adds.
Thanks to European cooperation, France and Italy were free to decide, at the beginning of February, on a joint delivery of a medium-range surface-to-air defense system SAMP/T, also called Mamba, in order to help Kiev to fight against attacks by Russian drones, missiles and planes. Mamba fires Aster missiles, which are also used from Royal Navy warships. This medium-range anti-aircraft missile is also the result of cooperation between MBDA and Thales, within the framework of Eurosam, a Franco-Italian GIE (economic interest grouping). He was notified at the end of December of a contract for the production of nearly 700 Aster.
Another signal of cooperation hailed by MBDA, the agreement found in the 155 mm shells (intended to be fired by artillery systems such as the French Caesar cannon) by the 27 European Union defense ministers to mobilize 2 billion euros for Ukraine. Or one billion to encourage countries that still have stocks of shells to deliver it quickly to kyiv and another billion to place group orders with European manufacturers. MBDA is also delighted with the diplomatic warming between Paris and London within the framework of the recent Franco-British summit.
France and the United Kingdom have agreed on the search for commonalities, in particular for future anti-ship cruise missiles: British FCASW and French FMAN/FMC and for the missiles of their future combat aircraft. This, within the framework of the Franco-German Air Combat System of the Future (Scaf) with which Spain is associated, and the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP), involving Great Britain, Italy, Sweden and Japan. . “The objective being to develop the same missile systems for the two combat aircraft, like the Meteor which equips the French Rafale and the Eurofighter “, specifies Eric Béranger.
Cooperation, however, implies that the countries play the game, by ordering the armaments that they finance. Which is far from the case. At the end of October, Germany brought together more than 15 NATO member countries around its “European Sky Shield” initiative, which aims to install an anti-missile shield with German IRIS-T SLM systems (manufactured by Diehl Defence) Israeli Arrow- 3 and American Patriot. Berlin’s objective is to pool purchases of anti-aircraft defense systems… An initiative poorly received in France and Italy. MBDA is indeed developing equivalent systems! “We are working on hypersonic missiles and capabilities to protect against them. We hope the story is not over“says Eric Béranger. It should also be noted that Berlin had to wait for months for the green light from the United States to buy the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system, which would also be partly financed by Washington, for 3 billion dollars.
Cooperation therefore has the limits set by certain countries which prefer to place themselves under the American umbrella and which buy from the United States, rather than from European manufacturers.
It is in this context that MBDA achieved a solid 2022 financial year, driven by international orders. Half of its turnover (4.2 billion) was achieved through export. “The war in Ukraine had no direct link with our activity, nor our order intake, which was exceptional, at 9 billion euros, driven by contracts with the United Arab Emirates, Greece or Poland. “, specifies the CEO. At the end of 2022, the order book reached a record level of 22.3 billion, i.e. nearly 5.5 years of production. To execute these contracts and prepare for new orders, in France in particular within the framework of the new Military Programming Law (413 billion between 2024-2030), MBDA plans to recruit 2,000 people in Europe, after having hired 1,570 in 2022. .