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Sweden and France have strengthened their potential for defence co-operation under a new strategic partnership signed on 30 January 2024 during a state visit to Stockholm, Sweden, by French President Emmanuel Macron.

On the following day, 31 January, Micael Johansson and Eric Béranger, the CEOs of Saab and MBDA respectively, expressed their willingness to support this process in the fields of anti-tank and air defence systems: two capabilities identified as particularly critical for the armed forces of both countries, especially in the context of high-intensity conflicts. The two CEOs signed letters of intent to strengthen the co-operation between their companies in these two fields while attending a business forum organised in the presence of the highest French and Swedish authorities.

“The closeness between Saab and MBDA is reflected in our co-operation over many years, and the deepening and broadening of that through these letters of intent is most welcome,” stated Saab’s Johansson. “Doing this here in Stockholm during the state visit by President Macron to Sweden is symbolic of how two European governments working together can facilitate industry in strengthening our collective security.”

Béranger of MBDA added, “This is an exciting new step in our long-standing partnership with Saab. We are both world leaders in the anti-tank and air defence domains and we will be combining our expertise to deliver the best capabilities for the armed forces on the battlefield. The signature of these letters of intent is further proof that co-operation lies at the very heart of MBDA’s values.”

Co-operation in the anti-tank field has resulted in an initial focus on MBDA’s AKERON MP medium-range anti-tank system. A first contract has been awarded to Saab and MBDA by the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV – Försvarets Materielverk). This will enable the pooling of Saab and MBDA’s expertise in the anti-tank domain in order to support the Swedish and French armed forces’ choice of the AKERON MP weapon system in the short term. This will also enable the implementation of a joint capability roadmap to develop new functionalities associated in particular with beyond-line-of-sight firing and prepare the missile to address the future generation of battlefield armoured targets.

Saab and MBDA are longstanding partners, as illustrated by their co-operation on the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile programme and the Taurus cruise missile, as well as in the European Modular ARchitecture Solution for EU States (MARSEUS) consortium: a European Defence Fund initiative that aims to provide a sovereign European beyond line-of-sight missile firing capability.

Saab CEO Micael Johansson (right of centre) and MBDA CEO Eric Béranger (left of centre), flanked by their countries’ defence ministers, signed letters of intent on 31 January 2024 to strengthen their companies’ co-operation on anti-tank and air defence systems. (Photo: MBDA/Saab)