Comments by Sir Donald SpiersChairman,
Foresight Defence and Aerospace Panel (December 2000)
As a general comment it is worth noting that,
so far as aerospace is concerned, a considerable restructuring
has already taken place in Europe with the formation of EADS,
involving aerospace companies for France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Also many UK aerospace companies have a significant presence (and
indeed own companies) in the USA. In addition there is considerable
experience, going back some 30 years, of the formation and operation
of Transnational Defence Companies (TDCs) to undertake specific
projects. (Sepecat for Jaguar; Panavia for Tornado; and Eurofighter
for the Eurofighter Typhoon).
The objectives laid out in the Agreement are
entirely sensible but need further comment as follows:
Article 1a. It is vital that Governments seek
only to provide a framework and do not try to become involved
in the setting up and operation of TDCs. In the long term companies
will only succeed if they are set up on entirely commercial grounds
and no one in Central Government has significant relevant experience
of doing this.
Article 1d. This is a particularly important
area where governments can help considerably. Exports are vital
in reducing costs to the national budget and hindrance by Government
regulations can be a real problem.
Articles 1f and 1g (and Article 30). One of
the major changes in aerospace over the last 10 years has been
that, whereas previously military R&T led the way and then
spun off into civil application, it is now quite common for civil
R&T in such things as aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics
and gas turbine technology to lead the way and then spin off into
defence applications. This is also particularly true of aircraft
computing and control systems. Thus control of technical information
and intellectual property rights may not be in the gift of Governments.
However, where the Government does invest in R&T, as for example
in the proposed MOD Towers of Excellence programme, it will be
important for industrial participants to be quite clear from the
outset where intellectual property is to be made available to
Article 1h (and Article 45). This is again a
most important area under the direct control of Governments. Just
as facilitating exports helps to give economy of scale so does
enhancing the home market by having a harmonised requirement.
But it is vital that Governments do restrict themselves to the
military requirement as defined in Article 45 and not get involved
in defining the actual equipment be it hardware or software. (In
the Eurofighter programme, Government Ministers actually laid
down the wing area, engine thrust and basic mass empty of the
aircraft as political requirements!)