On the day of the announcement of the supply of the new Teseo missile to the Navy, the managing director of MBDA Italy Lorenzo Mariani spoke before the Defense Commission of the Chamber. Here is what he said, between investments, exports and institutional support
In order to preserve the niches of excellence that Italy has at its disposal, it is essential to have reliable investments, especially in a cyclical market such as that of Defense. Word of Lorenzo Mariani, managing director of MBDA Italy, and executive group director Sales & business development of the European joint venture, in which Leonardo holds a 25% interest. The manager spoke today before the Defense Commission in the Chamber, chaired by Gianluca Rizzo, as part of the survey on defense systems planning and on the prospects for technological research, production and investments functional to the needs of the defense sector.
I TESEO ALLA MARINA
The hearing came on the day of the announcement of the new supply to the Navy, long overdue. It concerns the new Teseo Mk2 / E missile, for “evolved weapon system”. It represents the evolution of the OtoMat, a long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship missile. It is the result of the technical and programmatic activities that MBDA and the Italian Navy have jointly carried out in the last three years, with the aim of equipping the new generation destroyers (DDX) and, possibly, replacing the previous Mk2 / A version. board of the Fremm and Orizzonte class frigates. Furthermore, the new multipurpose offshore patrol boats, currently in production, are already prepared for a possible future installation of the missile, so that export prospects are also opening up.
IN STEP WITH THREATS
The new system, Mariani commented, “will keep up with the threats, which are constantly evolving”. It will also present “advanced functions to support the operations of the Italian Navy, significantly increasing the flexibility and operational value of its surface ships that will be equipped with them”. More: “This contract will also help support high-level skills in a domain of excellence in the Italian defense industry and will help ensure the sustainability of our company and its suppliers, as well as its employment levels in Italy in the years to come. “.
The company presented itself to the announcement with the data reported by Mariani to the Commission. “In MBDA Italy – he explained – over 1,500 employees work, more than half of whom at the main site in Rome: in 2020 we recorded 167 new entries, and we plan to maintain the trend this year too, bringing the total to about 1,650. “. This is possible, he added, “thanks to the solid order book and excellent export contracts concluded especially in the Middle East, always supported by the G2G relationship (the government-government agreements, ed) in countries that use our systems “. The age distribution of the company population, “with an average of 44 years, is very young for the sector and reflects its very high technological content”, explained Mariani. To all this is added the supply chain, for a total of about five thousand employees, supported by “virtuous investments for the benefit of technology and exports”, whose annual ceiling could be around 500 million. It is “a well-distributed pool of Italian suppliers, representing niche technological excellence and who march with us”.
Between investments and workload, the Covid effect appears limited for now. “Workload planning is an important issue within MBDA Italy, and having a multi-year time horizon has made it possible to overcome 2020 with considerable resilience, despite the difficulties associated with the pandemic”, remarked Mariani. This “testifies to the importance of having continuity in programs in a market that has its own cyclical nature”, and on which it could “be further improved, since some programs still have uncertainties in terms of financing and timing”.
This allows the company to think in terms of investments, especially in the South. “MBDA Italy – Mariani noted – has invested heavily in the South in the Bacoli-Fusaro plant, where we will continue to invest given the positive results, in the very high level of the market in terms of quality, time and costs”. This “does not limit the supply chain to the one located in the immediate vicinity of Naples: at the moment the creation of new plants is not on the agenda, since a certain degree of concentration is required and our current size is optimal on three sites “.
FROM THE INSIDE…
As for the entire defense sector, the growth prospects are mainly driven by exports, on the condition, however, of a solid national base. “The missile programs have great importance in MBDA Italy’s strategy, also in the framework of the axis with Leonardo, the Italian shareholder of reference, with whom we implement technology sharing on all fronts”. The result is “a win-win situation on the Italian and foreign market, and the contract signed in Qatar is an example”.
…ON THE OUTSIDE
Beyond national borders, “on naval and land systems we then have a historic collaboration with France and the United Kingdom: in recent months the finalization of various contractual tranches is underway that will lead to a fairly complete renewal of this family of products, where we employ about 450 employees who could grow by 80% with adequate planning “. And on the stop to licenses to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates decided last month by the Farnesina, concluded Mariani, “we have had no limitations because we do not provide systems that can be thought of as being used in any ongoing conflict; we do not cause or encourage conflicts, but rather respect the existing, correct legislation which prohibits the use of our tools in an ongoing conflict “.