I was at a seminar this afternoon at the Ecole Militaire (France's war college) on the subject of Europe's land defense industry during which it became clear that European companies in the sector will remain fragmented, each concentrated on its own national army's requirements, until such a day as there is only one army in Europe with only one set of requirements. Of course none of the speakers actually came out and said this but that was the undercurrent behind each of their presentations and my hunch was confirmed during the coffee break by one of them.
It does seems absurd that every major European army has a different armored personnel carrier, different radios, different versions of the same helicopter, different versions of the A400M. After all they want to achieve the same thing on the same theaters but until there is only one procurement agency speaking for one armed force this commonality is never going to happen. “It's too early for this” my coffee break companion told me. “In 2020 or 2030 perhaps.”
And so the U.S. companies, which have the advantage of developing equipment for just one nation, will continue to dominate the land defense sector where sales figures are concerned. Thales and BAE Systems are nevertheless the only companies which can be considered global thanks to their policy of buying companies or majority shares in companies all over the world ... although Christian Pons, chairman of GICAT, the French land armaments defense industry federation, remarked that “The only thing British now about BAE Systems is its name because it has become a US company, with its headquarters in the United States.”
Pons even warned that “if we in Euorpe remain divided and with no transnational clients we can foresee that within the next 15 years some of our national industries will no longer be around.”