The recent selection of the Eurofighter Typhoon over the Saab Gripen by Austria underlined a dilemma for BAE Systems: as part of both programmes – and several others – BAE is competing with itself.

This costs money, threatens relationships and absorbs resources which might be better used elsewhere.

The conflict between Gripen and Eurofighter in Austria was hard to predict. At Farnborough, Peter Anstiss, BAE Systems' managing director of Typhoon Export Programmes, admits that the company "had not expected any head-to-head competitions between two aircraft which differentiate each other so very clearly".

When potential conflicts of interest do arise, there are structures in place to provide the necessary ‘firewalls'.

In the Austrian case, Gripen activity came under the Industrial Partnerships Group headed by chief operating officer Chris Geoghegan, while Eurofighter came under the Programmes Group led by Steve Mogford.

Difficulties do not evaporate after shortlisting either, says Anstiss, when it can be a difficult transition to ‘swap horses'. "There can be a need for real long-trousered conversations," admits Anstiss.

Anstiss is more than cheered by the restructuring of the Eurofighter programme, however. "The appointment of a real ‘Captain of Industry' as chief executive who can ‘plug straight in' to the partner companies at CEO level means that the whole process will be more efficient."

He is also enthusiastic about the absorption of the Eurofighter International export team into Eurofighter GmbH, pointing out that their "invaluable expertise, responsiveness and cost focus can now be applied to the national launch customers."

He applauds the move away from determining appointments by nationality to a system in which any position is given to the best man for the job. "We will keep a representation of every nation in all areas but we won't guarantee specific jobs for specific nationalities.

"The new system worked particularly well in Austria – a German-led campaign – where the campaign director was a Brit, Mike Rudd, reporting to EADS."

BAE Systems itself is making a transition from being a simple, traditional project management organisation to being a prime contractor management agency: "Some people make comparisons with Airbus, while others see it as being a vehicle for further European integration. They are interesting analogies, but not exactly what we plan," says Anstiss.

Source: Flight Daily News