MBDA Accelerates Missile Production in Response to Ukraine War

 - March 17, 2023, 4:49 AM
Poland’s Mala NAREW air defense system employs MBDA’s CAMM missiles. (Photo: MBDA)

The Ukraine War is “a brutal reminder” to Europe’s defense industry, which must accelerate production to supply more weapons, according to MBDA chief executive officer Eric Bèranger. Announcing the company’s annual results in Paris, he revealed that MBDA plans to hire more than 2,000 workers this year after adding 1,570 last year.

MBDA's turnover last year was €4.2 billion, similar to 2021's figure, but the order intake was a record €9 billion, bringing the backlog to €22.3 billion. The company's weapons have not yet been supplied to Ukraine in volume, but the company is accelerating production of the Mistral 3 short-range surface-to-air missile from 20 to 30 per month.

Bèranger said the European Peace Council, which was recently created to coordinate the provision of weapons to Ukraine, will likely supply missiles, although the first priority is ammunition. Moreover, MBDA missiles are part of the SAMP/T air defense system that France and Italy have agreed to send to Ukraine. Those governments have said that any replacements they order would take 40 months to deliver, but that time could be reduced. The consortium of suppliers is already contracted to provide a new-generation version by 2025. 

Additionally, the sale of 80 Dassault Rafale fighters to the UAE is now under contract. This includes MBDA weapons and was the major contributor to last year’s record order intake. However, there was also an agreement with Poland to supply an air defense system named Mala NAREW, which includes the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM). Italy ordered the UK-produced missile, including an extended-range version, last year. 

According to Bèranger, MBDA must “simplify internal processes and cut red tape” to accelerate production, but there are also significant supply-chain tensions, with a 24-month lead time for some components from the company’s 1,600 suppliers. In response, MBDA is seeking greater coordination with them and is increasing its stockpiles of parts.