back to article Brussels arms bod: Don't buy Yankee deathware

The chief of the European Defence Agency says that EU nations must develop more sophisticated weapons technology jointly among themselves in order to be free of dependence on American exports. Specifically, Alexander Weis believes that European countries should club together to build spy satellites and heavy-lift helicopters. " …


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  1. BoldMan

    Sounds like any other form of Defence Procurment

    Too expensive, too wasteful, too busy playing with new toys (eg pointless Aircraft carriers) rather than getting the nuts and bolts right (eg SA80, Army comms etc etc).

    Another money sink for our Euro Tax - hmm I wonder which Defence Contractor is "contributing" to Mr Weis' offshore charitable concern...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Croissants & sauerkraut

    Maybe europe only needs to shift 30 tons of baked goods and sausage into the nice safe bits of Afghanistan though?

  3. Richard

    Also great value....

    ... compared to a C130J Hercules with a range of 2,000 nm and a payload of 20 tonnes, list price to you, sir, £33 million.

    I know it's not that simple, but the much cheaper C130 covers most of the operational requirements, and I assume there will always be a need for the greater capacity of the C17 for extreme lifts, what's the actual market demand for this latest EU vanity product? Probably depends on how much the taxpayer subsidises it.

  4. laird cummings

    All hail Lewis the Great!

    Dang, but I'm liking Lewis' stuff better and better. Actual reportage, with context and analysis, all in one intelligible article!

  5. Stone Fox

    Easy enough to sneer at.....

    While the points made (especially in the comments) are true and relevant, think on this.

    The yank plane is the cheaper, and it is better. But they've been making deathware and planes like that for YEARS. The Galaxy is one in a long line of planes I believe?

    Maybe in a couple of generations time (plane generations, not people) our military aircraft technology will be of a par with the states, but at the moment we're years behind, so our stuff is not going to be as good.

    BUT, if we don't develop our own stuff we're going to be Dependant for ever, so maybe it's time we got started?

  6. Eduard Coli
    Black Helicopters

    US Exports

    It seems the bad boy billionaires want to make money in Europe the same way they do it in the US. Get your frat brother to start a war then make gobs off the tax payers back off of privatization.

    The issue is already two, I think the US joins the elite of other banana republics in that it does not make any of it's own arms. All of the small arms are made in Belgium or Italy.

  7. Rick Brasche

    whatever happened to you guys?

    Britain built some of the most advanced aircraft, including the grandfathers to current heavy lifters-bombers-during and after WWII. Don't blame the lack of a domestic product on some sort of failing in the legacy products department. Put it square where it belongs-on "kumbaya" hippie politics and "turn the other cheek" and "can't we all get along" BS that, guess what, puts you in the position to be slapped again on the other side.

    Dust off the geniuses of DeHavilland, hire on more guys like those who restored your Vulcan*. Lose the EU, which never existed to care about people (no constitution-still) but has always been about control and Consortiums (Big Business). Why the EU is more concerned with a military force than it's citizens, should be your first and biggest concern. You can't sit there and wank about how bad us Americans are while you're letting even worse evil creep up from behind-we've provided an example of how *not* to run a nation, or more properly, "how to run a nation into the ground" (and I'm referring to the last 15 years of administrations, not just the current one) so shame on you if you fail to heed the "examples" we provide.

    * mmm, a heavy lifter based on a flying delta. Modern materials with proven common sense design. Just like that EU aircraft that looks like a Hercules knock-off sporting different props and advertising more composites.

  8. Chris G

    1 Nation

    The real problem in Europe is not that we are unable to produce the goods or to produce the goods at a reasonable price. It's the fact that we are not one nation as are the US and Russia, we do everything on a design by committee basis which is then further complicated by individual national requirements,pride,profit, motives, bloody mindedness etc.

    Until Europe has a Federal European government ( perish the thought) Europe will not be able to compete in any meaningful way with the likes of the US, Russia or even China or shortly India.So rather than trying to compete we should use our potential joint buying power to negotiate better deals with the other providers of deathware and if we really want to put our own stamp on it do a bit of retro engineering to improve on the originals, we in Europe are fully capable of that.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    EDA isn't *too* bad

    they're a quite dynamic group who , led by Brit Nick Whitney, are trying to defend a phase space in EU procurement mind share such that not everything will necessarily come from the US. One of their first projects (incidentally involving pMS participating Member States = faster progress than the rest of EU) is Advanced Soldier Comms, then UAV's then the harder and heavier bits of hardware.

    Most EDA officers serve on secondment from their EU MOD's , for a short contract, and personally as a non-military visitor, I have to say that they seemed to be doing their job!

    I didn't ask EDA any questions about big helicopters, but I did recently hire a KA-32A12 Kamov for dropping an experiment onto a Swiss Mountain, confirming the Russian angle!. Meanwhile back in Europe, surely we should be proud that whatever Italian based AgustaWestland is called today have actually delivered Bush's Marine One and Two....

  10. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    @Chris G

    Nice idea, but it doesn't pan out that way I'm afraid. The reason the US is so much more advanced than the EU nations is because it puts teh tender out to companies who then compete to produce the best kite at the cheapest price. Over here they put the tender out to companies who then... turn around and say "Well you do the wings, they'll do the wheels and we'll do the engines." There's no drive to actually develop efficiently and the project gets bogged down as - giving a recent example of thos lifter's wing and engine - parts of the spec are changed without telling the "partners" until it's almost too late.

    The UK was well on its way to having a rather advanced strategic airlift vehicle in the 70s but we scrapped it because the government decided that it would be more fun to look at working with the EEC on such projects. If we'd built it and kept it we would have had a vehicle on a par with the C-130; cheap, effective and highly adaptable. Instead we're 30 years behind in our tech and committed to buying crap that might be on a par with the US equipment when it gets built but which will spend so long in its development cycle as to be almost obsolete by the time it comes in to service.

  11. Tanuki

    Not Invented Here

    Our Euromasters have a severe case of 'not invented here' syndrome - therefore they feel obliged to iindulge in a slew of military-technical wheel-recreation at the euro-taxpayers' expense [see: Galileo satellite GPS when there's a perfectly functional set of US/USSR-provided equivalents].

    "Europe" just doesn't understand the idea of buying 'best-of-breed' on the open market, or using cheap-off-the-shelf technology. But there again, 'europe' and 'rapid reaction' or 'efficient procurement' just don't naturally occupy the same space.

    There again, I'm all for 100% outsourcing of defence: let military-companies and mercenaries bid competitively to provide armies for out-of-area interventions - it'd more truly reflect the underlying cost/risk equation.

  12. Michael Compton

    Not an aircraft buff

    But would the C 130 not be a better comparison as they are both turboprops, C17 being a turbofan. Comparing the vitals of C 130 to the A400M is alot more favourable. But like i said i'm not an aircraft buff.

  13. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    "Joint" development must refer to what they were smoking!

    Sorry, but our European chums can shove their joint development projects. They're always touted by politicians as a way of sharing the expense of development, yet usually stagger in horrendously late, massively over-budget, and usually unfit for purpose. Look at the timescales on the PANAVIA Tornado (a successful joint development) compared to the BAe Hawk (a bigger commercial success). European meddling seems to be a guaranteed way to turn a promising project into a fiasco, especially if the French are involved. The truth is British deathware companies usually do much better on their own, to the point where we sell British products to the Yanks!

  14. Brett Brennan

    On the other hand...

    One of the reasons that the US can offer better kit at a lower price is that, in addition to the domestic military market, the US can sell the kit to allies, increasing the economies of scale, and, incidentally, the profit margin. It's sort of like Microsoft deathware.

    If the EU starts developing military hardware "at home", it will initially be pretty expensive. However, as the kit starts flowing through the R&D&Manufacturing pipeline, the incremental cost to develop a follow-on or new program will lower in cost, and economies of scale will start accruing to the EDA.

    At the same time, the US will start losing customers for "excess" hardware, thus increasing the cost of US hardware, and, given the constant fight for budget over here, probably cause the cancellation of projects that would otherwise get funded because "we can always sell it to the Europeans".

    The EU is as technically advanced as the US in nearly every aspect of technology and more advanced in many. While there are many "bits and bobs" of US technology in most EU military hardware, there are also "bits and pieces" of EU-developed technology in the US hardware as well. (Rolls-Royce engines and Siemens electronics to name two.)

    So, as the EU develops its own military technology base, not only will the kit become more competative and start selling as an alternative to US hardware, but the knowledge an skills will grow to the point where the EU can supply more of the "bits and pieces" back to the US. And some of the "boondoggle" projects that get done in the US MIGHT get done BETTER in the EU...and sell back to the Yanks...

    ...who will start complaining about "all the good deathware comes from Europe"...

    I'll get me hat and goat...

  15. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not an EU problem but a multi-government problem!

    The excessive costs, delays and performance shortfalls of aviation projects arent an EU specific problem. It happens EVERY time governments get highly involved in a project, especially when MULTIPLE governments get involved. JSF anyone? 2 years behind already, double the cost, and is an absolute pig!

    Aircraft should be left for company's to design and should not be interfered with by annoying bloody governments - thats what causes the excessive costs, delays and performance shortfalls!

  16. Spider
    Thumb Down

    eu talking shop

    The EU fails in almost every way because it does not make choices for reasons of best product, finance or even capability but rather political expediency. what's important is the jobs in some cronies constituency not the innovation or economics available. I cannot think of a single succesful euro project that came in on time, on budget and delivered value for money. not one.

  17. oxo

    Ditch the US entirely

    They can't be trusted at all, and will leave our forces in the shit when it suits them.

    What about the RAF Chinooks which can't be used because of a software problem?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take the best of both

    As with the Apache helicopters the Brits bought, refitted with better engines etc. More powerful and faster than the US ones now (as told me by people with first hand experience of such things). Takes proven technology from both sides, not much more expensive than buying stock without the total dependence.

    Buy "blank" airframes from the US and bung in the bits that Europe do well.

  19. John Band
    Thumb Down

    Meanwhile, back on planet Earth

    "The reason the US is so much more advanced than the EU nations is because it puts teh tender out to companies who then compete to produce the best kite at the cheapest price."

    You don't know much about US defence procurement, do you?

  20. Paul

    I cant help feeling...

    That as long as defence contracts are done on the basis of "We are all paying so should all have companys in on it" It wont work. I feel that we need to stop messing about with all this protectionism, but then the French will never do that (Look at the problems with Unibet).

    Also, saying "the US make better stuff" is just silly. Yes, the Typhoon was designed to fight a war thas over, but by all accounts it is as good as the F22 Raptor (Including the only pilot who has flown both).

  21. David Evans

    One requirement

    European defence procurement will always cost more and lag behind the Americans and Russians for the simple reason that Europe doesn't run a unified military. Instead, any new project usually has to satisfy the various requirements of each military (and local political agenda), often requirements that are mutually irreconcilable - hence rubbish like the Tornado F2. To their credit, only the French have the guts to drop out of these joint ventures if they don't look like satisfying their specific requirements (hence the development of Rafale instead of Eurofighter). The Americans long ago recognised this which is why naval procurement is often separate from the USAF and Army; and that's just three services, in the case of Europe the problem is orders of magnitude worse. So if you want competitive European "deathware" then the solution is, have a common military (but that's a whole other issue).

    Oh, and Paul, the Typhoon is nowhere near as good as the F22 in absolute terms; maybe on a "per £ spent" basis, but that's about it.

  22. The Other Steve

    As usual, the EU does it wrong, but...

    ..we sniffy Euros and stiff assed Brits really do need an independent military industrial base. We will need it when we fight the Yanks. Or in the best case, when we finally grow some balls and simply disengage from them.

    I think we all know by now that sooner or later the Good Ol' US of A is going to do something so heinous and so unbelievably stupid that even the UK will find it distasteful to be associated with our once beloved cousins.

  23. evilbobthebob

    Most likely

    IF Europe/UK ever started making our own armaments:

    1) Production would get outsourced to China

    2) We would then sell it to the highest bidder

  24. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    @John Band

    "You don't know much about US defence procurement, do you?"

    You're right, I should have added "And then when Boeing gets the contract..."

    The US government tenders contracts on a competitive basis. Generally it works, sometimes it gets sidestepped but, however you look at it, they tend to produce better kit than the joint projects manage.

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