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US Companies Pushing Vehicles at Eurosatory

Jun. 14, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By PAUL McLEARY   |   Comments
Emphasis on Vehicles: Among the armor to be displayed at Eurosatory is the Lockheed Martin common vehicle. (Lockheed Martin)
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WASHINGTON — More than 130 American defense and security companies have packed up their gear and shipped it to the Eurosatory defense industry trade show in Paris, which will host about 1,400 other exhibitors from around the globe.

With global arms sales dipping and increasing international competition for defense dollars, however, those companies will be working for any attention they can garner.

While the Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center outside of Paris will be packed full of helicopters, UAVs, missiles and every other defense and homeland security technology available, a quick survey of several of the largest US companies reveals that ground vehicles appear to be the big ticket item this year.

Lockheed Martin, for example will feature its usual indoor stand showcasing air and missile defense, tactical missile and fire control products. But it is also renting an outdoor space for a robust ground vehicle display, including its submission to the US Army and Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program.

The company is also bringing its Warrior armored fighting vehicle, which is used by the British Army, and its common vehicle, which can be transported inside a CH-47 helicopter and is in service with British forces and special operations forces from several other countries.

BAE Systems will also have indoor and outdoor displays featuring its RG-35 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, CV90 infantry carrier and tracked BvS10 infantry carrier.

GD's European Arm

The biannual show is a major opportunity for the increasingly globalized defense industry to size each other up, and with global arms sales decreasing as countries including China, France, Russia, Japan and Israel work to increase exports, the competition is fierce.

But US-based companies have an unsurprising advantage. This year’s annual defense spending report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that in 2012, four of the world’s top five defense firms were American.

In 2011 and 2012, Lockheed Martin had the largest global sales, followed by Boeing, BAE Systems (which is based in the UK but also boasts a large American presence), Raytheon and General Dynamics.

After crunching the numbers, SIPRI determined that sales of the world’s top 100 defense companies actually fell by 4.2 percent to US $395 billion in 2012, which came on the heels of a 6.6 percent drop in 2011. But open the timeframe a bit, and arms sales by those top 100 companies have actually increased by 29 percent since 2003.

While seeing a slight downward trend now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over or ending, sales by the 42 American weapons makers on the list claimed 58 percent of the total arms sales worldwide.

While American firms have traditionally been dominant on the global stage, at a show like Eurosatory, which drew 58,240 visitors from 111 countries at the last event in 2012, they’re still going to have to compete for eyeballs.

There were no numbers available about preshow registration, according to a show spokeswoman, although Daphné Lepetit said in an email to Defense News wrote “we can say that we are happy with the recorded numbers so far; they are in line with our expectations. Our 2014 goal is to aim at 58,000 professional visits. Lots of parameters enter into account and we prefer to stay cautiously optimistic.”

Hanging over the heads of some US weapons makers at this year’s event is the contentious issue of export controls and how US regulations can sometimes make it difficult to sell equipment overseas in a timely manner. And given the Obama administration’s stated goal of partnering and equipping more local forces to help allies beat back unrest and extremist elements destabilizing their countries, the issue is something administration officials insist they’re tackling.

Speaking at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, on May 28, President Barack Obama said the United States needs to “deepen our investment in countries that support [United Nations] peacekeeping missions, because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessens the need for us to put our own troops in harm’s way. It’s a smart investment.”

A similar line was taken by Greg Kausner, the deputy assistant secretary of state, in April 23 remarks when he warned that the export rules in place could hurt the US defense industry in a time of increasing international competition.

“We cannot simply turn our back on the complexities of building partner capacity,” he said. “To do so would open the door for other suppliers and actors [and] would disadvantage the very industry on which we rely for our technological security capabilities and advantage.”

In January, Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive 27 on Conventional Arms Transfers (CAT), which is an attempt to update the rules drafted in 1995. The new CAT policy “is not a formula” Kausner warned. “It is instead a decision-making framework, the efficacy of which depends on policymakers being able to balance its two fundamental tenets” of supporting transfers that meet genuine security requirements of US allies while showing restraint in transferring weapons that could destabilize a delicate situation.

With or without the new policy, American hardware and the implicit alliance that comes with purchasing it continues to be the pillar that keeps global arms sales so strong. Eurosatory may go a long way in exposing any cracks in this edifice. ■


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