MBDA is playing a fundamental role in the defense community regarding the transatlantic cooperation. MBDA itself is the result of a series of merges that were also driven by the real need to rally and optimise different responses into a single MBDA response to the Customer community.
In a time of fiscal austerity throughout the World and Europe the situation is extremely severe and worrying where defense programs risk to be canceled, delayed or streamlined to a level of ineffectiveness. Nation leaders have to provide responses to tax payer’s basic need, which is Defense and Security for the entire population and civil assets. Fulfilling this commitment can only be achieved through a global burden sharing mechanism where political, military and technological aspects have to be considered with the same weight.
Especially at a time where US are turning their attention to the Pacific scenario Europe has to receive more political commitment, do better with less resources, bolster Euro-Atlantic cooperation and solidarity by maximizing synergies and strengthening cooperation. It is thus inevitable that Europe has to transition from a Collective Security scheme into a Cooperative Security scheme and from a Security Consumer status into not only a Security Provider but also a Technology Sovereign Provider status. And MBDA is ready to support this.
Let me now summarise why today it is so important to provide this kind of protection to the friendly assets and what the importance of defense against Anti Tactical Ballistic Missiles is in a world where the most probable threat that Western Countries will face in the next future is indeed Tactical Ballistic Missiles.
I want to remind to all of you that from 1973 until now, we have recorded more than 3000 launches of different Tactical Ballistic Missiles around the world; we know that there are more than 25 new generation systems of mass destruction in development in the Rogue States that have a range between 350 km and 3000 km (>95% total threat) with the capability to carry conventional or NBC payloads. Last but not least we have to remember that the future Air Breathing Threats will represent a large and distributed risk to the Western countries adding complexity to the international strategic scenario.
Cruise missiles, UAVs, last generation aircraft (able to deliver NBC devices) are already a potential threat for our national strategic assets. This means that when all of these systems – or even a little part thereof – will become operational, the civilized world will have to face a new, powerful terroristic threat that will characterize the new asymmetric conflicts between the West and the rest of the World thru the Rogue States.
MBDA, and in particular MBDA Italia, one of the operational arms of the MBDA group, is fully committed to face this important technological challenge by providing a forward edge solution to the NATO countries. In fact, MBDA Italia is involved since the early Nineties in the SAMP/T system together with MBDA France and since 2004 in the development of the MEADS system (Medium Extended Air Defense System) together with MBDA Germany and the well known American Lockheed Martin.
It is worthwhile mentioning that the Air Defense SAMP/T system has proven to be able to successfully intercept and destroy a short range ballistic missile (according to the NATO classification we are talking less than 1000km incoming threat) during recent flight test trials of 2011 and 2012 and Italian and French customers have stated their intention to consider SAMP/T as NATO asset. And since we are talking NATO, both MEADS and SAMP/T were positively rated against 16 different Smart Defense Qualifiers by NIAG SG-172 in 2012.
These important programs were created to realize a system which is able to engage and destroy any possible forecastable threat in the field of Tactical Ballistic Missiles. Now I would like to underline the need for completing the development of such a complex system like MEADS.
Facing the evolution of the Tactical Ballistic Missiles our system will be able to intercept and destroy both present and next generation incoming threats. This is achieved thanks to a set of extremely sophisticated, state of the art Major End Items (Sensors, Launcher, Missile Round, BMC4I) that are together able to cover demanding key system requirements such as target set, transportability and mobility, area / home defense, 360 degree of protection, interoperability and netted distributed architecture / plug and fight. Thru the optimization of the intercepting parameters with the data fusion coming from different sensors the optimal firing solution is executed up to the Hit To Kill (HTK) intercept.
All of these efforts are testifying the commitment of the three Nations that give us the unique possibility to operate in the most efficient way thanks to the “Government Furnished Facility” agreement that allows us to test every single subsystem in the right test facility on both sides of the Atlantic (Pratica di Mare AFB, WSMR).
In this complex scenario the MEADS system COULD, or better said, HAS to be seen as the “Western Security Projectable Umbrella” because, in this system, the whole world can recognize how the transatlantic link between US and Europe is well alive. Within the current contract we are also going to demonstrate not only the performance capability of this challenging system, but also the joint effort of three Nations, with their governments, their armed forces and, particularly, their scientists and engineers to cooperate in such a complicated program.
MEADS promises to become the masterpiece in the future ATBM network. The studies to bring MEADS in a national layered and netted configuration are going in the right direction thanks to the job made together. By implementing this transatlantic link we can deliver through a program like MEADS the right level of response by answering all questions of security coming from the international scenario.
In any case this cooperation can be seen as the standard format of any future development of military systems notwithstanding the fact last year we started suffering some difficulties due to the budget defense cuts in the US that risk to bring the program to a premature closure before the beginning of 2014. To me there will never be any more chance in developing a complex system in the future without a close cooperation between all the parties: government, armed forces and industry.
All of the positive elements mentioned above, including the technological sovereignty, are possible only in a multinational context like the one MEADS has guaranteed up to now to the participating Nations.
Today, notwithstanding the still standing possible US budget cuts, industry is trying to save the experience matured in all of these years by pursuing a Europeanized solution called MEADS EFOP (European Follow On Program). In reality the EFOP is a stepped approach whose first aim is for Europe to obtain an Initial Operational Capability fully based on MEADS technology. A further step consists in blending the results obtained at the Initial Operational Capability with elements of the SAMP/T program (a 50/50 French-Italian cooperation) which is currently completing its Common Technical Operational Acceptance (ATOC) phase.
In particular we are expecting to insert all of the key technologies developed on the European side of the MEADS program in a technological stream that could support a shared vision among the European countries to be carried on with the American partners to achieve the right level of maturity to allow a common trunk solution that would ideally be shared by the EFOP in Europe and a Technology Harvesting Program in the US. This can represent the right balance in terms of commitment and applied technologies between the two sides of the Atlantic.
For all of the reasons I have mentioned above, in this environment the MEADS program is paving the way for future transatlantic programmes where we can recognize that the solid commitment between the US and Europe is still there.