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Titel: Toekomst Europese defensie industie
Bericht door: jurrien visser (JuVi op Twitter) op 13/06/2011 | 10:36 uur
Anglo-French Deal Upsets Neighbors

Germans, Italians Warn of '2-Tier Europe'

Published: 12 June 2011

ROME - Italy's defense industry has launched a fight against a France-U.K. deal on defense cooperation that it believes is weakening European industrial integration, and it has won backing from Germany's industrial association.

"Everyone is worried that the Anglo-French deal will lead to a two-tier Europe," said Remo Pertica, the chairman of AIAD, the Italian defense manufacturers' association. AIAD is promoting a raft of new European research and development programs that it hopes will rival the Anglo-French effort.

In November, France and the United Kingdom signed a wide-ranging defense accord, envisioning bilateral cooperation on a range of technologies, from missiles to UAVs.

Alarm bells immediately rang in Rome over the perceived threat to future joint European programs in which Italy could participate.

Addressing the Italian Senate's defense commission May 18, Pertica said the deal between Paris and London is "an unsustainable threat to Italian industry, which we need to react to quickly and efficiently." He said he had therefore proposed the creation of "parallel initiatives" to the European nations sidelined by the deal.

Pertica, an executive at Italy's Finmeccanica group, said his country had already proposed several joint development programs, including small satellites launched from aircraft and tilt-rotor helicopters.

Germany's defense industry association is backing the initiative, although it has yet to propose its own parallel programs.

"I am not happy about the Anglo-French accord," said Prince Christian-Peter zu Waldeck, the director of the Federal Association of the German Defense and Security Industry.

"We wrote to Italy's AIAD last week to continue the discussion; we should let the CEOs of individual firms talk to each other, and then something could happen," he said.

"It would be helpful if the German and Italian [defense ministries] backed this initiative, too," Waldeck said. "The German government sees the Anglo-French deal as focusing on nuclear weapons and [aircraft] carriers, but I believe it will go much further and create problems for programs like the Franco-German EADS UAV Talarion."

Pertica said Italy was taken by surprise by the Anglo-French deal.

"At the time, we were preparing a list of cooperation deals ahead of a meeting between the French and Italian ministers of defense, including the export of FREMM frigates, satellites and above all, MALE [medium-altitude, long endurance] UAVs" and unmanned combat aerial vehicles, or UCAVs, he said.

"We are concerned about the future of European industry when Eurofighter, Rafale and Gripen [fighter jet] production ends," Pertica said. "The Eurofighter nations alone have 35,000 people working on the program, and we are talking about 2014, which is effectively tomorrow."

The four countries that produce the Typhoon combat jet through the Eurofighter consortium are Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Rafale is built by France's Dassault Aviation, while the Gripen is built by Sweden's Saab group.

The French response to Italy's proposed cooperation deals "was 'No,' because of the pending deal with the U.K.," Perttica said. "We were told that France and the U.K. would decide on products before holding an international competition to involve other countries in, let's say 15 percent of the work, with BAE Systems and Dassault taking the best part of the work, I imagine."

Drawing Up Lists

In December, Pertica contacted the Letter of Intent (LOI) group: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

"Without excluding the U.K. and France, we then asked for innovative programs that could be developed in a multilateral way, with the overall cost over five years and the cost the country would be prepared to put up," he said.

With a green light from Italy's defense procurement office, Italian officials presented a list in April - making it the only country so far to do so - that includes micro-satellites launched from aircraft, a concept being developed by the Italian Air Force.

In addition, Italy's Iveco has proposed work on an unmanned tactical ground vehicle. The list also includes proposals on missiles, cybersecurity systems, and a combat tilt-rotor aircraft based on the tilt-rotor being developed by Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland.

"If any programs get underway, they would be headed by the European Defence Agency," Pertica said.

An official at TEDAE, Spain's defense industry association, said he was against the Anglo-French deal, but was unsure whether anything could be done to stop it.

"We are not particularly happy about the accord, but if the LOI countries account for about 90 percent of the European defense industry, France and the U.K. account for about 80 percent of that," he said. "It is sad, but we understand that they wanted to move, since nothing was moving.

"I could agree with the Italians, but it is another thing to try to get official support," the TEDAE official said. "The Spanish government is studying ways of developing cooperation in Europe, but Madrid may well say Brussels comes first, and the matter should be handled through the EU.

"But will a protest be made to the EU? That would be a good idea, but since it has not happened yet, I doubt it will."

Britain and France have already aligned themselves on programs to develop an air-to-surface missile and a MALE UAV system, with the prospect of further cooperation to come. Britain has not ruled out deals involving several international partners, but U.K. officials have said they prefer bilateral deals.

In December, Peter Luff, the U.K. defense procurement minister, said the Italian relationship is of huge importance to Britain, as there are so many areas of overlap, commonality and shared views.

Rees Ward, the CEO of ADS, the British defense industry association, said the Anglo-French deal is not exclusive.

"It is an attempt by the two major defense nations in Europe, who, between them represent 50 percent of procurement and 75 percent of R&D, to give a renewed impetus to collaboration and cooperation," Ward said. "It will be for the two governments to decide, but, in principle, depending on the program itself, my understanding is that these joint programs would be open for other nations to join.

"The LOI group of trade associations has discussed concerns about the Anglo-French accord, and has received reassurance from the U.K. and French trade associations," Ward said. "The group appreciated the reassurance and agreed to wait and see. While I understand our Italian colleagues' concerns, I believe they are unfounded."

Ward said the British and French initiative has won support from the European Union.

"At the high-level conference on defense and security called by the European Commission ... on May 23, in response to a call by Italy for the commission to intervene, the European Commission commented that the cause of European collaboration was better served by bilateral cooperation than by single nations acting alone," the ADS chief said.

Neuron's Cloudy Future

Pertica said he understands the British belief that European defense programs tend to get bogged down over differing requisites.

"It is true the A400M [military cargo plane] went over schedule and budget, but often it is because militaries are not capable of aligning their requirements," he said.

But Pertica warned that one program, the Neuron UCAV, is facing extinction because of the Anglo-French accord. The Neuron program involves France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

"Neuron is blocked," Pertica said. "I understand the French have said that after the development stage, the program will go nowhere."

In Paris, Dassault's international director, Eric Trappier, denied that.

Pierre Tran contributed to this report from Paris.