HC 772 Defence CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by MBDA UK Ltd


MBDA, a leading global missile and missile systems company, is a multi-national group with 10,000 employees across France, the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain and the USA. MBDA has three major shareholders—BAE Systems (37.5%), EADS (37.5%) and Finmeccanica (25%), and is the first truly integrated European defence company. In the UK MBDA employs over 3,000 people at sites in Stevenage, Bristol and Bolton, with the vast majority being highly skilled and qualified engineers and systems designers. UK turnover in 2012 was 885 million Euros (£718 million).

Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS)

The question of RPAS use is not, in itself, one on which MBDA takes a view. RPAS are operated by highly trained and qualified pilots who adhere to the same strict Rules of Engagement as other platforms. Hence, the important question is not about the platform itself but about what the platform is used for. As the former Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Dalton recently said, “They [RPAS] change the platform from which effects can be achieved, not the effects themselves nor the legal and ethical framework that underpins everything we do.”

It is here that MBDA’s chosen design and manufacturing philosophy—that of striving for greater accuracy—becomes important. An RPAS equipped with reliable and accurate missile systems are able to deliver the desired operational effect with a much smaller warhead charge than those equipped with less accurate weapons. Furthermore, the use of reliable and accurate missile systems increases the number of opportunities available to engage legitimate targets, including some that would ordinarily be considered too difficult to attack, with confidence that the risk of causing unintended collateral damage had been significantly reduced. Accuracy also means that the cost per successful engagement is minimised.

So by using accuracy as a measure of success, we are able to meet the needs of our customers whilst also seeking to meet the most stringent test in modern warfare—the extent to which you are able to minimise collateral damage and civilian mortality whilst preserving military superiority and meeting political demands.

November 2013

Prepared 24th March 2014