MBDA Profits from Anglo-French Defense Pact

 - March 23, 2012, 4:08 PM
MBDA will get Anglo-French funding to develop the next generation of missiles in Europe. This is the company’s Perseus concept for a future air-to-surface weapon. (Photo: MBDA)

A new inter-governmental treaty to be signed in 2013 or 2014 will enhance Anglo-French cooperation on missile development, said Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA. The company has responded to the moves by London and Paris to share defense costs and capabilities with a proposal to create “centers of excellence” that will rationalize the development of new weapons. Bouvier explained that although MBDA is a multinational company, only specific programs such as the Meteor air-to-air missile and the Scalp/Storm Shadow cruise missile are currently developed cooperatively across national boundaries. He noted that the French government last July endorsed the British “Team Complex Weapons” approach, which promotes sovereign capability by defining capability targets and allocating resources between contractors.

Following the latest Anglo-French defense summit, MBDA (in cooperation with Thales) awaits a contract for the development and manufacture of the helicopter-mounted future air-to-surface guided weapon (FASGW) in the coming months. At the end of last year, the two governments awarded MBDA a two-year study contract on how long-range strike missiles such as Storm Shadow/Scalp and Exocet might be replaced around 2030. MBDA UK managing director Steve Wadey said that the company’s internal Perseus study would contribute to this work, but that the overall trade space to be considered is “enormous” with respect to range, speed and type of missile.

Wadey said that MBDA will complete development of the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile this year and start production. He did not specify which of the six European partner countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden or the UK) will take the first production missiles. AIN expects that it will be France, for the Rafale combat aircraft. A study with Lockheed Martin on how the Meteor can be integrated with the F-35 has been successfully completed. Wadey also confirmed that production of the Fire Shadow loitering weapon for the British Army is now under way, as well as the marketing for its export.

MBDA reported revenues of just over €3 billion for last year; new orders worth €2.6 billion; an order backlog worth €10.6 billion; and “strong” but unspecified profitability. About one-third of revenue is export-generated (outside Europe), and the company wants to increase this proportion to 50 percent.