PARIS — Initiatives launched by the European Commission since 2017 are a “game changer” for European missile-maker MBDA, whose CEO Antoine Bouvier said those projects will “profoundly change the environment in which we work."

Presenting the company’s annual results this week — revenue is up to €3.2 billion (U.S. $3.6 billion) in 2018, from €3.1 billion a year earlier — Bouvier said the lineup of relatively small, European Union-sponsored activities has great potential.

“Commission initiatives have a much more structuring effect than their budgets might indicate, and have a real impact,” he said.

Asked by Defense News to clarify this statement Bouvier took as an example the TALOS (Tactical Advanced Laser Optical System), part of the so-called 2018 Preparatory Action on Defence Research projects, for which MBDA and CILAS have been selected. The ground agreement is still in preparation but the funds — as yet unspecified — have been approved by the European Commission. The project will be implemented by the European Defence Agency.

Bouvier said that although the project was only worth “a few million euros” it was important because it was the first time the European Union “has taken an initiative on this subject.” Bouvier explained that a “wide-ranging” team with input from the Netherlands, Poland and others would be set up. “This team will then be able to answer future European tenders,” he said.

Bouvier predicted that “this might be the embryo of a much more important initiative in the European laser sector.” The aim of this first, small project, he explained, “is to prepare a road map for the future.” For the pan-European company that he heads, it is "the guarantee that we will be well placed in the future when much more significant budgets are in play, starting in 2020,” Bouvier said.

Christina Mackenzie was the France correspondent for Defense News.

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