LONDON – MBDA chief executive Eric Beranger has urged European governments to direct new spending aimed at rebuilding military capabilities to be spent in the region rather than procuring foreign-made equipment.
Speaking at an April 6 press conference in Paris, he argued Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine should be a wake-up call for European efforts to achieve greater defense independence. “The Ukrainian drama is emphasizing again the importance of sovereignty,” he said. “Suddenly, Europe is harshly reminded that enjoying the way we live requires us to be protected, defended with military action.”
Beranger declined to answer questions over the company’s involvement in the supply of weapons to the Ukraine but confirmed the company had received requests for urgent operational requirements.
He said Europe was facing a turning point, both at the national level, where countries like Germany planned to invest heavily in military procurement, but also at a regional level.
“A willingness to invest in its defense capability is extremely important and a huge opportunity to strengthen European sovereignty and European autonomy in certain areas, provided this money is spent in Europe,” Beranger said. “If it is not spent in Europe and if it is spent with other countries, the result could be exactly the opposite. The result may, on the contrary, be very destructive.”
Plugging immediate gaps in capabilities with equipment acquired from countries outside the region is already underway. For example, Germany recently announced it was buying F-35 jets from the United States and Israel is said to be the front runner to supply the country with a ground based anti-air system.
In this year’s iteration of the annual company briefing, Beranger relegated financial performance to a few remarks at the end of the presentation in order to emphasize his message about the importance of Europe strengthening its defense sovereignty.
For the record, 2021 turned out to be a decent year for the French-based missile maker owned by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.
Revenues broke through the 4 billion euro mark for the first time, reaching 4.2 billion euros, with a 5.1 billion order intake in 2021.The company order book reached 17.8 billion euros by the end of last year.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.