MBDA Italia; considerations on 2022 and a look forward on 2023

Paolo Valpolini

As well as for the whole MBDA, 2022 was a record year for MBDA Italia. “It was the year of the CAMM,” Lorenzo Mariani, Executive Group Director Sales and Business Development MBDA and Managing Director of MBDA Italia told an audience of journalist during a holiday greetings meeting.

The signature on November 28 of the CAMM-ER contract for the base programmes of both Italian Army and Air Force boosted the company orders book, more options to be signed in 2023 to complete the missiles requirement, the financing of the latter being quite safe.

“The contract signature brings with it our commitment to set up a second production line for the CAMM, that will be based in Italy,” Mariani added. The final integration of the new missile will take place in a dedicated facility in Noceto, in the Padania plain, close to Parma; the area already hosts a military DEMIL establishment that belongs to the Agenzia Industrie Difesa, a non-economic public body supervised by the Ministry of Defence, which also controls numerous military production sites.

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MBDA already acquired some export contracts on CAMM missiles, namely Poland for the CAMM and a first, officially undisclosed, launch customer for the naval CAMM-ER, that EDR On-Line understands being Pakistan. These missiles will be the effectors of the Albatros NG system being installed on the four MILGEM-class corvettes of Turkish design under construction for the Asian country, two of them being produced in Pakistan. “We therefore must organise ourselves to increase the overall MBDA production capability for the CAMM,” Mariani stated, the second production line being of course part of the game, although also specialised sites such as that of Fusaro, which produces seekers and radomes, must ramp up their capacity.

Looking at Italy, “I am strongly pushing on the Italian Navy to make the CAMM-ER a tri-service missile. There are pros and cons, the CAMM-ER ensuring logistic commonality and a lower acquisition and maintenance cost, and we also foresee a much wider user community. It is however clear that the Aster 15 is already in service with the Navy, which allows logistic commonalities, and s optimised for a wider set of targets.”

Remaining vague on group and NATCO results for 2022, Lorenzo Mariani stated that for MBDA Italia turnover, orders and income are in “a more than arithmetic progression compared to 2020 and 2021.” In 2021 the Italian turnover had nearly doubled compared to the previous year, and in 2022 the increase is “still impressive” according to his words, and orders follow a book to bill “very close to 1 billion,” as an order of magnitude.

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The managing director underlines how MBDA Italia was able to deliver on time all the systems ordered by Qatar, which were also aimed at the protection of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, namely the (MCDS), which batteries can use as effectors the Marte ER as well as the Exocet MM 40 Block 3, the Marte ER being also used on NH 90 naval helicopters. “We delivered all MCDS systems, which were the key items for the protection of land assets.” Deliveries to Qatar, including those for naval platforms, together with those for the Italian Navy and other, allowed MBDA Italia to build up a strong turnover.

“Looking at 2023 we are pursuing a series of contracts, mostly in the Aster/FSAF area, therefore in cooperation with MBDA France. They should materialise in the short term, definitely in the first half of the year. I am talking of the Aster B1 production and of the launch of the B1 NT production, as well as of the in-service support of FSAF systems as the current contract expires by the end of December. Another topic is the Horizon ships MLU, and for this a discussion is ongoing but we are confident that in the end the cooperation with France will continue,” Mariani says expressing his wish for such an outcome. The programmes mentioned are worth around 3 billion Euro for the whole MBDA.

Looking at the export market, MBDA UK is busy in promoting the CAMM for further systems in Poland, and this has an impact on MBDA Italia as the latter is involved both in the launchers and missiles production. He also underlined how the Italian branch is also involved in all major contracts obtained by MBDA, notably in the UAE (Rafale) and Greece (FDI ships and Rafale).

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With the two European 6th generation fighter programmes having made recently a step forward, MBDA is actively working on both of them, respecting “Chinese walls” imposed by the two customers. “On our side we are doing all what is possible to support customers in order to draft requirements as similar as possible, suggesting architecturally aligned solutions both for air-to-air and air-to-ground systems. We are aiming at having similar building blocks that will require some fine-tuning to be adapted to the different systems. This will be possible only if the two programmes will follow similar timelines. We are working on the architecture issue, which however means getting into the aircraft design, and this is where we must stop due to the Chinese walls issue. It is a complex topic, but we are trying to align the proposals, at least at technology level,” Lorenzo Mariani underlined.

Coming to EU HYDEF, the European Hypersonic Defence Interceptor, Lorenzo Mariani says that MBDA is proposing to pursue a project under MBDA leadership, which would make sense in Phase 1. “My opinion is that after this a convergence will be sought, if the system will remain within European Union boundaries,” he added.

Photos and images courtesy MBDA