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MBDA has shown resilience in the past year, posting sales of €3.6Bn. Order intake in 2020 was €3.3Bn, resulting in an order book of around €16.6Bn, MBDA CEO Éric Béranger said at a virtual press conference today.

Despite the pandemic, the company hired a total of 1,100 new employees across Europe last year, with another 1,200 to be added in 2021. However, MBDA Germany is excluded from this positive development as around 300 jobs will be cut, according to a spokesperson for the company. The reason for the staff reduction is the freezing of the project to build a Tactical Air Defence System (TLVS) by the German Government. According to Béranger, MBDA submitted a good quality bid in cooperation with Lockheed Martin for TLVS. However no budgetary funds have been allocated for the project.

2020 Milestones

Major new orders for MBDA in 2020 included:

  • a production contract for SPEAR missiles for the RAF
  • an upgrade for the BRIMSTONE 3 missile
  • basic overhaul of the ASTER missile for France
  • the development contract for the new MHT guided missile for the TIGER helicopter.

In addition, Italy ordered the new TESEO MK2/E anti-ship missile and Germany, with Rheinmetall as co-contractor, a new high-energy laser demonstrator for the German Navy. Major export orders were won in the naval segment for Senegal, among others.

To meet the future requirements of the armed forces, MBDA says it is investing heavily in innovative weapons and technologies as well as underlying capabilities. The goal is to develop a new generation of collaborative, networked weapons, Béranger said. To counter the growing threat of drones, the SKY WARDEN system has been developed, which connects numerous sensors and effectors. In addition, the company is working on ways to defend against so-called loitering munitions.

MBDA wants to use new technologies in the future, such as artificial intelligence, new target identification or hypersonic technologies. In this context, processes in the area of swarms, complex mission planning, navigation or collaboration of different weapons are also being considered, said the MBDA CEO. Internationally, Béranger sees growing interest in the laser segment, with more than 50 concepts or concrete programmes for high-energy lasers subject to implementation.

MBDA in 2021

2021 is a crucial year for major European defence projects, according to MBDA. The SAMP/T NG contract, awarded by the European defence agency OCCAR on 19 March, is to improve the air defence capabilities of France and Italy. The improved SAMP/T guided missile will also be able to engage ballistic missiles, Béranger stressed. This makes it the only European missile system with this capability. The new generation of the air defence system is expected to be operational by the end of the decade, he announced.

According to Béranger, France and the UK will expand their cooperation on a new anti-ship missile. The objective is to initiate the evaluation phase for the FC/ASW programme and to strengthen the technological basis for the next but one generation of missile systems.

MBDA also wants to advance cooperation on an endoatmospheric interceptor. This interceptor is considered a key component of the Timely Warning Interceptor with Space-based TheatER surveillance (TWISTER) and was launched under the EU’s PESCO programme to provide a European contribution to NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence. According to MBDA, following Germany’s accession to TWISTER a few months ago, the funding conditions, as well as the industrial shares in the project, will be determined in the current year.

Within the framework of the TEMPEST and FCAS projects, MBDA says it will co-produce the next generation of Future Combat Air Systems as part of two industrial partnerships and develop powerful, networked and cooperative weapons for them. Béranger pointed to his company’s prominent role in the development of a so-called remote carrier in the French-German-Spanish FCAS project.

Lars Hoffmann