Bullish on In­dia! MBDA’s Fu­ture Plans

MBDA’s Fu­ture Plans

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & News -

In­dian de­fence pro­cure­ment might be slow, the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment a maze, and mil­i­tary re­quire­ments in nearcon­stant flux, but from CEO An­toine Bou­vier down, MBDA’s top lead­er­ship re­mains pos­i­tive on In­dia as a mar­ket and an op­por­tu­nity for in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion. Vayu’s An­gad Singh re­ports from MBDA’s fa­cil­i­ties in France and the UK.

In­dian de­fence pro­cure­ment might be slow, the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment a maze, and mil­i­tary re­quire­ments in near-con­stant flux, but from CEO An­toine Bou­vier down, MBDA’s top lead­er­ship re­mains pos­i­tive on In­dia as a mar­ket and an op­por­tu­nity for in­ter­na­tional co-op­er­a­tion. Vayu’s An­gad Singh re­ports from MBDA’s fa­cil­i­ties in France and the UK.

Euro­pean mis­sile man­u­fac­turer MBDA is backed by three ma­jor aero­space and de­fence share­hold­ers : BAE Sys­tems (37.5%), Air­bus (37.5%) and Fin­mec­ca­nica (25%). The com­pany was cre­ated in 2001 af­ter the merger of the lead­ing mis­sile man­u­fac­tur­ers of France, Italy and the UK, with an aim to achieve “crit­i­cal mass” so as to chal­lenge the pri­macy of the Amer­i­can mu­ni­tions in­dus­try at the time. CEO An­toine Bou­vier, speak­ing to Vayu at the Com­pany’s of­fices out­side Paris in Septem­ber, be­lieves this has been achieved with a roughly 25% global mar­ket share to­day, equiv­a­lent to the ma­jor US firms.

MBDA con­tinue to pur­sue growth, and has iden­ti­fied ex­ports as a key driver, with a tar­get of greater than fifty per cent of to­tal sales to ex­port cus­tomers. The Com­pany has his­tor­i­cal links in the Gulf coun­tries of the Mid­dle East, but In­dia has emerged as a key mar­ket in re­cent years, par­tic­u­larly as a des­ti­na­tion for “long-term in­dus­trial co- op­er­a­tion,” ac­cord­ing to Bou­vier. He high­lighted the decade-old Kelkar Com­mit­tee re­port as an ar­tic­u­la­tion of In­dia’s sov­er­eign de­fence in­dus­trial aims, but noted that progress has been lim­ited. How­ever, Bou­vier stressed that the broad In­dian aim for a ro­bust, sov­er­eign de­fence in­dus­try dove­tails with MBDA’s own his­tory, given its ge­n­e­sis as an or­gan­i­sa­tion in­tended to be Eu­rope’s an­swer to the then global ‘heavy­weights’ in the mis­sile mar­ket.

In­dia’s de­fence in­dus­trial aims also fit with MBDA’s fu­ture growth plans, as ex­em­pli­fied by the joint ven­ture an­nounced with L& T in Fe­bru­ary 2017 ( see Vayu II/2017). Bou­vier is con­fi­dent that there will be a close align­ment with In­dia in terms of strate­gic ob­jec­tives, stat­ing that it is clear that In­dia is a “long term part­ner in terms of se­cu­rity … [and] de­fence.”

Bou­vier also noted that MBDA has the sup­port of its Euro­pean stake­holder Gov­ern­ments (France, the UK, Ger­many, Italy and Spain) for tech­nol­ogy trans­fer to In­dia and sup­port to in­dige­nous man­u­fac­tur­ing un­der var­i­ous DPP pro­vi­sions. “MBDA’s his­tory is one of co­op­er­a­tion, con­sol­i­da­tion and de­vel­op­ment of an au­ton­o­mous mis­sile in­dus­try among mul­ti­ple Euro­pean na­tions”, said the Com­pany’s CEO, and with MBDA’s pres­ence in In­dia be­ing the firm’s largest out­side of Eu­rope, Bou­vier be­lieves that what MBDA pro­poses with In­dia is a con­tin­u­a­tion of this “legacy of co­op­er­a­tion in Eu­rope.”

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