Rome, 21 March 2019
By Luca Peruzzi
During the annual Italy’s MBDA press conference, with the attendance of MBDA Group CEO Antoine Bouvier, MBDA Italy’s Managing Director and Executive Group Director Sales & Business Development Pasquale Di Bartolomeo and MBDA Italy’s CFO Claudio Palomby, the MBDA Italy’s MD gave an overview of the status of the national and international defence programmes involving the Italian arm of the European missile group, in addition to the 2018 financial results already reported by EDR online.
“The different mix of domestic and export orders in 2018, with about 60% of the former and 40% of the second, after five years of continuous export majority, is a sign of the efforts the European countries are putting toward the enhancement of their missile capabilities”, said MBDA Italy MD.
Both MBDA Group CEO and MBDA Italy MD have cited the MICA New Generation and Brimstone contracts and the interest of different customers, while on both export and domestic market, the MBDA Italy MD highlighted the developments of the Marte ER family of anti-ship missiles. “This weapon solution has been conceived as multi-platform which and has already been contracted by the Qatari Armed Forces in the coastal defence and helicopter-launched versions. We are currently in discussion with a Gulf country for a shipborne launched version while in the fast-jet segment”, said MBDA Italy MD, the Kuwait Air Force being keen to equip the Eurofighter Typhoon with the Marte ER. “I am confident a request for proposal (RfP) related to the weapon package will be issued soon”, he added. The Italian Air Force has also selected the Extended Range version of the Marte anti-ship missile to equip its Typhoons, with the Italian MoD including this yet-to-be-funded requirement in the Multi-Year Programmatic Document (DPP, Documento Programmatico Pluriennale) 2019-2021.
The MBDA Italy MD also said he is confident the Italian MoD will budget the CAMM ER development to satisfy the Italian Armed Forces requirement to replace the Aspide missile system starting from 2021. Last year the Italian Parliament hasn’t decided the funding for this programme, but the requirement hasn’t been deleted. However, the CAMM ER is at the heart of a UK and Italy’s ready-to-be-signed agreement to jointly develop and produce the new missile version. “The strong support demonstrated by the Italian MoD for this programme and its inclusion in the DDP 2019-2021 pushed the MBDA Group to continue supporting the missile’s live development trails, starting from the new Avio engine. This will allow us to continue the new missile version development although at a reduced pace, waiting for the Italian MoD funding”, Pasquale Di Bartolomeo said. There is a strong interest for the new version and bids to compete, including the Polish programme for a new short-range missile system. MBDA has recently demonstrated through a joint feasibility study with Northrop Grumman the system’s capability to be integrated with the American group-provided Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) system. CAMM is the first non-U.S. missile system to be integrated with the IBCS. The latter has been contracted by Poland for the first phase of the longer-range air defence missile programme based on a Patriot missile system solution.
Speaking about MBDA Italy, the Managing Director has pointed out the capabilities of the Fusaro site. “The latter is the Centre of Excellence for radio-frequency seekers technology in Europe. MBDA invested in the site production line, personnel and applied technologies. We are producing advanced solutions to guide the latest missile weapons, including the Aster and Meteor seekers. The CAMM missile family’s seeker will also become part of the Fusaro’s product portfolio, if the programme will be funded by Italian MoD”, Di Bartolomeo pointed out.
The MBDA Group through its subsidiary will add the latest AESA seeker developments in Europe. “MBDA has invested in this technology and Fusaro has been working on it in the recent years to keep with the development pace. I can reveal that the Italian MoD and Navy selected this technology to guide the latest version of the MBDA Teseo anti-ship missile”, said MBDA Italy MD. If the programme will be funded, under the strong push of Italian MoD, “MBDA reached an agreement with Leonardo not to disperse financial resources and duplicate efforts, under which the latter Group will provide its expertise in AESA radars, including the airborne solution for the Eurofighter Typhoon and the two-band naval radar for the latest frontline combatant vessel under construction for Italian Navy, to support MBDA in the development of an AESA seeker for the new anti-ship missile version”, he continued, highlighting the importance of such programme for a potential participation of Italy in the French-UK FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon) programme.
Both the MBDA CEO and rhe MBDA Italy MD also revealed details of the latest development of the SAMP/T New Generation surface-to-air defence system. “The French and Italian MoD are currently working on the convergence of requirements for a new generation of SAMP/T”, MBDA Italy MD elaborated. The SAMP/T NG will use a new radar system, which for the French MoD will be the Thales GF 300 (Ground Fire 300) AESA radar while the Italian MoD selected the Leonardo’s Kronos Grand Land HP (High Power) version, both deploying the under development MBDA’s Aster 30 Block 1 NT missile munition, launcher and C2.
MBDA Italy MD also revealed that the Italian MoD launched initial activities for the Italian Air Force’s Storm Shadow mid-life upgrading, although the budgeted phase is related until now to the preparation of the munitions for the upgrading work. Moreover, he also confirmed both UK and Italian MoD have decided to integrate the Meteor air-to-air long-range missile on respectively the F-35B and F-35A, to be included in the Block 4 weapon package.
Photo by Luca Peruzzi