PARIS — MBDA expects Britain and France to sign an intergovernmental agreement by the end of the year to allow the legal transfer of technology and production, a key note in cross-border cooperation in a highly sensitive area, said Antoine Bouvier, chairman of the European missile maker.
Under the specialization, four centers of excellence will be the base for research and development (R&D) and production of subsystems. For example, the Lostock site, near Manchester, has just produced the actuator fin for the Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), a medium-range weapon to replace the antitank Milan for the French Army, he said. There is also a British center specializing on datalinks.
The Bourges factory, in central France, has a test bench for Brimstone, a British missile, he said. Another French site will specialize on weapons controller technology. Those are four of 12 centers of excellence that will handle the work share packages agreed on programs.
The specialization accepted the principle of a certain level of "mutual dependence," he said. That goes beyond R&D and production, and includes a handover of export rights to the partner country and development of capability, which is a strategic issue.
MBDA seeks the foreign orders to offset the fall in spending in Europe, with 2014 marking a low point in the company's annual sales, he said.
The company posted 2014 sales of €2.4 billion (US $2.5 billion), down from €2.8 billion in the previous year.
MBDA hit its target of annual profit of about 10 percent of sales, Bouvier said.
Poland and Turkey are two major export prospects with their respective tenders for air defense systems, he said. Italy is expected to sign an agreement this year on the Aster New Technology weapon as the Italian Navy wishes to arm its new multifunction, 4,500-ton frigate. That naval interest compares to the French Army's interest in the Aster, he said.
The Aster NT would extend the reach of the current Aster block 1 weapon to hit ballistic missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers. That compares to the block 1's ability to intercept missiles with a range of 600 kilometers.