European multilateral defence procurement

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The Eurofighter was developed, produced and procured by several European nations

European multilateral defence procurement refers to the collective armaments purchasing policies of European nations.

Traditionally European countries have either developed their own weapon systems or bought 'off the shelf' systems usually NATO-sponsored from the United States or from the Soviet Union, now from Russia. Furthermore, identical projects in differing countries were recognised as a waste of resources.[citation needed] Likewise they hope to establish a profitable export competing the American one.[1]

The European Defence Agency was established in 2004 to create a stronger European market for military equipment.


The Eurofighter Typhoon is the latest in a line of joint aircraft projects between the Western European powers. Previously the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy had cooperated in producing the Panavia Tornado in the 1970s, and the UK and France had cooperated in producing the SEPECAT Jaguar. The Eurocopter Tiger is developed by France and Germany and was also bought by Spain. Franco-Italian naval projects include the Horizon-class frigates and FREMM multipurpose frigates.


While European military budgets remain fragmented and massive duplication in research and development exists, the European military industry has made some moves towards consolidation. British Aerospace (BAe) was widely expected to merge with Germany's DASA to form the first major European military-industrial giant. Instead in 1999 BAe merged with another British company, GEC's defence business (Marconi Electronic Systems), to form BAE Systems. As a result, in 2000, DASA merged with Aerospatiale-Matra to form EADS.

In 2001 the formation of MBDA brought together the product portfolios of Aerospatiale Matra Missiles (of EADS), Alenia Marconi Systems missiles, and Matra BAe Dynamics to form Europe's largest missile manufacturer and number two globally after Raytheon.

In 2015, the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and French Nexter merged under a joint holding company KMW+Nexter Defense Systems. Both companies are major producers of military land systems.[2]

Other major European defence contractors include:


Below are some examples of European products and the previously used weapons they may replace.

France's desire for military and industrial independence has motivated its continued pursuit of high-technology projects, for example the Dassault Rafale.

Multinational programmes can fail because of disagreements about price or capability. For example, while the UK terminated its collaboration with France and Italy on the next generation frigate (Horizon CNGF) and started a national Type 45 programme. However the warships will share some systems, primarily the MBDA Aster missile.

Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair came under pressure from President Bill Clinton to select Raytheon's future missile to arm the Eurofighter,[3] however the UK government selected the European Meteor air-to-air missile.

Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders has called the difficulties in coordinating European investment in the A400M program a "horror", and said "I am determined, at least for my company, not to ever again walk into such a program".[4]

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have signalled their countries intention to co-operate on the development of a future combat aircraft to be produced as a replacement for Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.[5][6]

Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement[edit]

The European Union has adopted a code of conduct[7] with the objective to inject transparency and competition into the military procurement. It is administered by the EDA and under its scope are contracts under Article 346 of TFEU, of at least €1 million and with the exclusions of weapons of mass destruction, cryptographic equipment and other procurements.

As of 2009 the code is adopted by Norway and all EDA members except Romania, who may join later.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hawranek, Dietmar; Dettmer, Markus; Beste, Ralf (11 July 2011). "A New Arms Race: Exports Booming for German Weapons Manufacturers". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Nexter Systems and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann have completed their association" (PDF) (Press release). Amsterdam: KMW, Nexter. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  3. ^ Baumgardner, Neil (16 September 1999). "Raytheon Offers Joint Development of New Missile with UK". Defense Daily. Phillips Business Information, Inc.
  4. ^ Bruno, Michael (2 May 2014). "A400M: The Horror, The Horror". Penton. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  5. ^ Hoyle, Craig (20 July 2017). "Franco-German fighter proposal gains momentum". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  6. ^ Tran, Pierre (14 July 2017). "France and Germany agree to jointly build new generation fighter jet". Defense News. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  7. ^ The Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement
  8. ^ Key Facts About the Code of Conduct on Defence Procurement

External links[edit]