MBDA in 2016: solid prospects and growing recruitment
2015 was a year of record orders—€5.2bn—thanks mainly to the Rafale and FREMM contracts signed by Egypt and Qatar. New export orders reached the exceptional level of €3.6bn, substantially outstripping new domestic orders for the fourth year in a row. Revenue picked up significantly in 2015, at €2.9bn, after reaching a low point of €2.4bn in 2014 which was a result of the pressure on European defence budgets.
With a “book-to-bill” ratio well above 1 for the third year running, MBDA has reinforced its order book, which totalled €15.1bn as of 31 December 2015—enough to keep the company busy for five years—and is now looking forward to solid growth prospects until the end of the decade. Consequently, a major recruitment plan is under way to cope with the increase in business. In 2016, the group plans to hire a thousand people, mainly in France and the UK.
“Year after year, MBDA is getting stronger in exports, enabling the group to return to a period of growth after managing the effects of budget cuts in its European domestic markets”, says MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier. “This dynamic ensures that we can strengthen the company and guarantees its status as a global player in missiles, at a time when competition in the international market is increasingly fierce. This has been MBDA’s core strategy since 2001: namely the pooling of our European domestic nations’ resources to maintain critical mass at the global level. This ensures we keep our technological edge, not only so that their armed forces benefit from operational advantage and freedom of action, but also so that innovation thrives in our sector.”
In terms of industrial cooperation and integration, 2015 was marked by a new step in the One Complex Weapons strategy, with the first output from the specialised Centres of Excellence for French and British programmes and the signing of an agreement between the governments of both countries. At the end of December, France officially awarded the contract to develop the Aster Block 1 NT anti-missile missile. This year, Italy is expected to join in pursuing this cooperative programme which has been successfully developed for several decades now and which has given Europe its first independent anti-ballistic missile defence capability. Finally, on 3rd March 2016, the Franco-British summit in Amiens confirmed the decision to launch a joint concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme.
2015 also saw increased availability of MBDA’s airborne missiles on European combat aircraft. The Meteor air superiority missile completed its integration tests on Gripen and should enter operational service with the Swedish Air Force this year; integration on Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon is ongoing. The integration of Brimstone on Eurofighter Typhoon began in 2015, making this missile the fourth in the MBDA portfolio —following ASRAAM, Meteor and Storm Shadow / SCALP— to become available for customers of this European fighter.
The land combat segment was also marked by the success of MMP development firings in 2015, paving the way for qualification tests at the beginning of 2016, with deliveries scheduled for 2017 in accordance with the French Army’s expectations.