MBDA records continued growth and more recruitment in 2017

By J. Roukoz

During a recent press conference held in Paris on 15 April 2017, Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, announced that 2016 for the fourth consecutive year his company’s order book significantly exceeded sales in value terms as new orders rose to EUR4.7 billion against sales of EUR3.0 billion. The value of the order book jumped again to EUR15.9 billion at 31 December 2016, giving an excellent outlook for the next five years.

2017 Key figures over four years

Domestic orders at the remarkably high level of EUR3.2 billion, are helping to significantly expand MBDA’s portfolio of products. The UK has contracted the development phase of the SPEAR missile that will give the F-35 a unique multi-purpose stand-off precision strike capability. The UK’s family of ASRAAM/CAMM anti-air missiles also won contracts to be integrated onto the F-35 Lightning II fighter and Type 26 frigate.

In France and Italy, the Aster family will take a great leap forward in the quality of performance against new types of manoeuvrable ballistic missiles. The Franco-British deep-strike SCALP/Storm Shadow programme, which has been in service since 2003, will be updated by 2020. Finally, France has announced the mid-life update of ASMPA to ensure that this nuclear strike air-launched missile remains reliable, available and with high-performance.

Export orders (EUR1.5 billion) include the equipment and missiles for the 36 Rafales bought by India in September but not the major contracts for MCDS coastal defence systems and for arming the Fincantieri’s combat ships for Qatar, which were signed in 2016 and will be recorded in this year’s accounts.

In order to sustain this robust growth potential, 2017 will see an increase in recruitment by MBDA. Recruitment began to rise in 2013, with around 600 new hirings a year between 2013 and 2015, increasing to 1,000 in 2016. We expect this to rise further in 2017 and plan to take on 1,100 new staff this year across all our home countries.

In our home markets, last year was marked by greater Franco-British co-operation following the ratification of an intergovernmental agreement that will facilitate internal company exchanges between the two countries and allow MBDA to optimise its industrial organisation. The agreement is considered as a world first for sovereign industries.

In response to the call, in Germany’s 2016 white paper on security and the future of the German military, for deeper co-operation in European programmes and a stronger European Defence and Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB), MBDA’s Executive Committee made a decision, effective 1 January 2017, to bring MBDA Deutschland into the integrated perimeter of the Group. The resulting reorganisation of work will tighten collaboration between teams to the benefit of MBDA Deutschland and the rest of the Group. In the framework of national regulations for defence and security, the strength of the entire Group can now be enlisted to deal with technical challenges presented by the TLVS programme that will give the German armed forces enhanced defence capabilities.

In the field of exports, MBDA is continuing to expand into its main client countries and has signed agreements with Polish, Indian and UAE industries. These will allow us to push down our roots into these countries and absorb them into our industrial base. “2016 has been a pivotal year”, said Antoine Bouvier, MBDA’s CEO. “Today’s successes will build the MBDA of tomorrow – a company with a rejuvenated workforce, an industry that is more flexibly organised across Europe and prospects that are buoyed up by our fattest order books ever. This is a company that is creating ever tighter links with its export countries and with the allies of our home countries. It is an MBDA that is increasing critical mass year on year to ensure our European clients have the continued access they require to sovereign technologies that provide military superiority. » A noted point of interest. As a response to the Spanish MoD’s requirements to modernize its existing Mistral launchers, MBDA has developed a new system based on a remotely controlled turret, equipped with two Mistral missiles and a latest generation thermal sight, capable of being mounted on light armoured vehicles such as the URO VAMTAC ST5, the Spanish Army’s high mobility tactical vehicle.  

Whilst the standard Mistral ATLAS system is a manually operated twin missile launcher, the new ATLAS-RC system provides greater protection to the crew, since it can be operated from within the vehicle’s cabin or, remotely, through a state-of-the-art fully mobile workstation.

Its 360° revolving, motorised turret is easy to operate, provides an optimised operational capability while at the same time keeping costs to a minimum. ATLAS-RC is compatible with all versions of the combat proven Mistral missile and benefits from its many performance advantages. These include fire-and-forget capability; high reliability; exceptionally high kill probability against fixed and rotary wing aircraft and UAVs.

Mistral incorporates the ultimate in state-of-the-art technology to ensure optimum effectiveness, such as a full imaging IR seeker which provides a very high resistance to IR countermeasures as well as the ability to engage low IR signature targets.

Mistral ATLAS-RC is MBDA’s response to today’s requirements for a weapon system that combines high re power, short reaction time, day/night surveillance and engagement capabilities, tactical and strategic mobility, together with a high level of crew protection.

The system can be integrated into a coordinated re control network and adaptable to any communication system chosen by the customer. The system has been designed to minimise crew workload and number (it can be operated by one single soldier), to be easily integrated on a wide range of high-mobility armoured or non-armoured combat vehicles and to be air-transportable on aircraft such as the A400M Atlas and C-130 Hercules.

MBDA Spain will develop, produce and support this system, backed by the MBDA group’s wide experience in remote controlled launcher systems, along with the significant participation of the Spanish defence industry supply chain.