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The European guided missile manufacturer MBDA has shown itself to be robust in the past year shaped by the corona pandemic and achieved sales of 3.6 billion euros. Incoming orders in 2020 were 3.3 billion euros, which led to an order backlog of around 16.6 billion euros, said MBDA CEO Éric Béranger on Wednesday at a virtual press conference.

Despite the corona crisis, the company hired a total of 1,100 new employees across Europe last year, with a further 1,200 employees to join in 2021, emphasized Béranger. However, MBDA Germany is excluded from this positive development. A total of around 300 jobs would be cut here, said a company spokesman when asked. The reason for the staff reduction is the freezing of the project to set up a tactical air defense system (TLVS) by the federal government. According to Béranger, his company has made a good quality offer for TLVS in cooperation with Lockheed Martin. However, no budget had been made available for the project. For this reason, MBDA must also reduce the expenditure for TLVS.

According to the MBDA CEO, his company wants to support the German Ministry of Defense in modernizing short-range ground-based air defense. According to him, talks are currently underway on this. According to the MBDA spokesman, the first step is to check what the customer wants. Only then is an offer feasible. MBDA could possibly offer the use of its test center for the Patriot system in Freinhausen for other systems as well.

The most important new orders for MBDA in 2020 included a production order for SPEAR missiles for the Royal Air Force and an upgrade for the Brimstone 3 missile, the Aster overhaul for France and the development order for the new MHT guided missile for the Tiger helicopter . In addition, Italy commissioned the new Teseo MK2 / E anti-ship missile and Germany, with Rheinmetall as a co-contractor, a new high-energy laser demonstrator for the German Navy. Larger export orders were won in the marine segment for Senegal, among others.

In order to meet the future requirements of the armed forces, MBDA says it invests heavily in innovative effectors and technologies as well as underlying capabilities. The aim is to develop a new generation of collaborative, networked effectors, said Béranger. The Sky Warden system, which connects numerous sensors and effectors with one another, has been developed to counter the growing threat posed by drones. In addition, work is being done on ways to counteract so-called loitering ammunition.

MBDA wants to use new technologies such as artificial intelligence, new target identification or hypersonic technologies in the future. In this context, procedures in the area of ​​swarms, complex mission planning, navigation or the collaboration of different effectors would also be considered, said the MBDA CEO. In the laser segment, MBDA is active as a cooperation partner in a project in Germany and Great Britain as well as in France. Internationally, Béranger sees an increasing interest in the technology with more than 50 concepts or specific programs for high-energy trucks being implemented.

According to MBDA, 2021 will be a crucial year for major European defense projects. The SAMP / T NG contract awarded by the European armaments agency OCCAR on March 19 will improve the air defense capabilities of France and Italy. With the improved guided missile from SAMP / T, the fight against ballistic missiles is also possible, emphasized Béranger. This is the only European missile system with this capability. The new generation of the air defense system is expected to be operational by the end of the decade, he announced.

In addition, according to Béranger, France and Great Britain will expand their cooperation on a new anti-ship missile. The aim is to initiate the evaluation phase for the FC / ASW program and to strengthen the technological basis for the next but one generation of guided missile systems.

MBDA also wants to promote collaboration on an endo-atmospheric interceptor. This interceptor is considered a key component of the TWISTER program. TWISTER stands for Timely Warning Interceptor with Space-based TheatER surveillance and was started as part of the EU's PESCO program to make a European contribution to NATO's ballistic missile defense. According to MBDA, after Germany joined TWISTER a few months ago, the financing conditions and the industrial shares in the project will be determined in the current year.

As part of the Tempest and FCAS projects, MBDA says it will, as part of two industrial partnerships, produce the next generation of Future Combat Air Systems and develop high-performance, networked and cooperative effectors for it. Béranger pointed out the prominent role his company played in the development of a so-called remote carrier in the French-German-Spanish FCAS project.

The multinational MBDA group has locations in the five European countries France, Great Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain as well as in the USA. According to its own information, the group offers a total of 45 missile systems and products for countermeasures that are already in operational use. 15 more are in development.

Lars Hoffmann