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MBDA upholds European defence collaboration

16th March 2017 - 12:17 by Beth Maundrill in London

MBDA upholds European defence collaboration

Against a backdrop of Brexit and political uncertainty across Europe, MBDA will to continue down the road of European defence industry collaboration as its looks for stronger links with Germany and Spain.

Already well-established in the UK and France, the weapons manufacturer has recently integrated MBDA Deutschland into the folds of the MBDA Group.

The company had the objective of securing a contract for TLVS, Germany's future ground-based air defence system, at the beginning of the year but this has now been put on hold by the German customer, the Luftwaffe. A new timeline for the decision is set for the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

MBDA is also looking to Spain, although expansion in this nation could take several years, Antoine Bouvier, CEO at MBDA, told reporters at a media briefing in London on 15 March.

'Spain is still modest in terms of activity for MBDA but Spain has the potential to become a domestic country of MBDA with the same level of market presence of industrial activity of the other countries,' he said.

Sales in Europe represents 20% of the total market, excluding Russia and China, according to the company. The US represents 40% of the market but the company acknowledged it was not able to access that in its entirety.

'We need to secure the critical mass… this is what we need to secure new programmes in the right technology in new markets to strengthen our position and develop the company for the long term,' said Bouvier.

'Even with the critical mass in Europe we are not able to completely secure the critical mass to be able to compete and to have a long-term successful perspective.

'It means yes, we will continue to develop our presence in the US - even if we are not developing a significant volume of activity in the US, we are not giving up. But this will not represent a significant part of our sales for the foreseeable future. We have to consolidate our position in Europe and develop our position in the export market.'

The company currently has export agreements with India for its Rafale missile kit, and it is likely that MBDA could see further contracts as India acquires more aircraft.

'We have not yet started further discussions on that yet,' said Bouvier.

The company also has two contracts with Qatar, although the down payment has not yet been received. One is for an extended range version of the Marte and Exocet missiles. The other contract is for a weapons package for Fincantieri's combat ships in Qatar.

In 2016 the company reported new orders of €4.7 billion against sales of €3 billion. The order book stands at €15.9 billion as of December 2016.

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