Waldeck, of the German defence industry group, said European countries’ insistence on different designs for new military equipment caused wasteful duplication.
“We can’t have two tanks because one country would like to have the driver’s seat on the left side and the other country would like to have the driver’s seat in the middle ... These are really sometimes ridiculous requirements and we have to overcome this national egotism,” he said.
NATO and the European Union’s European Defence Agency (EDA) are trying to increase efficiency by encouraging pooling and sharing of military capabilities among their members.
NATO approved a package of 20 multinational projects at its Chicago summit in May while the EDA has commissioned a study on precision-guided or “smart” munitions that could lead to greater cooperation in the European industry.
Another example of the trend is a Franco-British plan to jointly develop a new surveillance drone. A contract with France’s Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems is expected to be signed in July, industry sources said this week.
Industry experts say defence companies with innovative technology or a strong position in a niche market continue to do well. Other companies respond by diversifying into other areas, such as the broader security market.
AeroGlow, a small British firm exhibiting at Eurosatory for the first time, is keen to pursue export opportunities for its products, which include a lighting system that helps soldiers escape when their armoured vehicle has been hit by a bomb.
“Whilst maybe some of the big markets are contracting, if you walk around here, there’s an awful lot of armoured fighting vehicle manufacturers ... and as a small company, I still think we’ve got a lot of potential to grow over the next couple of years,” AeroGlow business development manager Keith White said.