Echoing these views is Marwan Lahoud, CEO of the guided weapons company, MBDA. A joint venture involving the Franco-German EADS aerospace group, Britain's BAe Systems PLC and Finmeccanica SPA of Italy, MBDA has business links going back some 30 years with India. Most significantly, there has been a very long-standing production cooperation with the Indian company BDL for the Milan anti-tank infantry weapon. Our air-to-air Magic 1/2 and S530D weapons have been in service on the Indian Air Forces Mirage 2000 and the Indian Navys Sea Harrier for many years as well, says Lahaud. He adds: The historical links are being maintained today with the recent orders for the ATAM air-to-air missile for the Army and Air Forces ALH helicopters, and of course, we will be equipping the Indian Navys new Scorpene submarines with the SM39 Exocet anti-ship missile. In fact, we consider India as one of the major pillars of our current and future business and marketing strategy beyond our domestic markets in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
At Aero India 2007, MBDA will be displaying a range of products that will give visitors an understanding of the breadth of MBDAs capabilities. It is important to point out that MBDA is unique in the sector, as the only company able to meet the guided weapon systems requirements of each of the armed forces, army, air force and navy, he says. Of course, we have very specific products aimed at, for example the air force, but some of our products have applications across all three services. Good examples would be our range of Mistral-missile weapon systems which feature in land and naval air defence as well as in the ATAM helicopter air-to-air system, adds Lahoud.
ATAM has just recently been ordered by India for the Air Force and Army to equip the ALH helicopter. Another example is MICA that has already been deployed operationally and is in service as an air-to-air missile with air forces around the world. Using the same missile, we are now also offering a vertically launched air defence variant to navies and armies, he says.
At the show, MBDA will also be making sure that delegations are aware of its world-leading position in the guided weapons sector. MBDA is a relatively new company, albeit with a heritage going back some 50 years.
To have reached this leadership position so quickly, with a turnover of some 3.5 billion, is quite an achievement which says a lot about how our products and technology know-how are perceived by the global market, says Lahoud.
Looking to the future, MBDA officials can see a situation where Indian defence industry and the company work together to meet not only some of Indias domestic defence requirements but also where the two approach the global export market together with next-generation weapon systems.