HAMBURG, Germany — The French Defense Minister’s preference for a broad European scope to a planned Anglo-French medium-altitude long-altitude UAV was a positive sign for EADS, Chief Executive Louis Gallois of the European company said Jan. 17.
“You have seen Mr. Longuet was pushing for a program with other European countries, including Germany and Italy,” Gallois told journalists on the sidelines of a joint New Year’s press conference by EADS and Airbus, here.
“I think it’s encouraging for us to push the way we’re pushing,” Gallois said.
Defense Minister Gérard Longuet told the French aerospace press club Jan. 9 the Anglo-French project “should accept the construction of Europe.
“We can’t ignore countries with industrial capabilities. We’ll probably have an Anglo-French project which cannot avoid opening to other European partners,” Longuet said.
France would not develop the EADS Talarion Advanced UAV, Longuet said.
Gallois has urged the British and French governments to open up a proposed new MALE UAV to include EADS and other European partners, to avoid a repetition of the Eurofighter Typhoon versus Rafale dogfight which has divided European industry into an internecine battle for foreign sales.
“Talarion is a prototype, it’s not a final project,” Gallois said.
A top priority for EADS in its talks with the governments of its “home countries” was to preserve research and development capabilities through the launch of new program, made possible by cuts in some defense orders, Gallois said.
The Talarion UAV was a potential for such new program support, he said.
EADS is waiting for a decision from the German government for a go ahead with Talarion, a company spokesman said. EADS has some 160 engineers working on UAVs and is funding the work on company money. In the face of defense budget cuts in Europe, one of EADS’ priorities for 2012 was to increase export efforts and grow its “global footprint,” Gallois said.
The company was also in talks with home country governments, particularly Germany, on “existing and valid” military contracts, he said.
Germany has said it wants to cut the orders for Tiger attack and NH90 transport utility helicopters.
“We have to discuss with them,” Gallois said. “We have our interest to defend regarding workload in our facilities, profitability, future of the product, the balance between Germany and other countries “We include in that the possibility to be part of new programs which could be financed with part of the savings on quantities. It means we are open to discussion,” Gallois said.
“As always, we want to have that decision as quickly as possible as we don’t like uncertainty,” he said.
EADS and Finmeccanica signed a deal in December to team on UAV development, reflecting wider discontent in Italy and Germany over the Anglo-French defense accord reached on Nov. 2, 2010.
The planned Anglo-French MALE drone was one of the projects included in the bilateral treaty. BAE Systems and Dassault have formed a joint venture to bid for the joint UAV program.