Boeing and EADS are to work together on ballistic missile defence under a landmark agreement signed at Farnborough yesterday.

The framework agreement also brings together Boeing and BAE Systems and Alenia-Spacio.A subtext of the agreement is a plea by the leaders of both EADS and Boeing to politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to free up aerospace trade.

No details about the technologies involved will be revealed until agreements are reached at the political level. Boeing chairman Phil Condit said it was a "very important beginning" to a relationship he sees spanning 20 years.

"Effective air and missile defence is fundamental for the security of our nations and all NATO partners," he said. "Boeing and EADS compete in many markets around the world, but we share the belief that today's and tomorrow's security requirements demand global industrial cooperation.

"The US has laid out a strategy and a programme to implement its fundamental belief that ballistic missile defence must be deployed globally, capable of defending the US, its friends and allies and their military forces."

Philippe Camus, joint chief executive of EADS, said: "We are no competitors when it comes to safety and security. We are partners." He added it was a "great political and industrial opportunity" to further trans-Atlantic cooperation. His fellow chief executive Rainer Hertrich pointed to the lack of public dialogue about defence in general and missile defence in particular.

"European governments are beginning to set new priorities in defence spending and some have started to increase defence budgets," he said.

"Ballistic missile defence is a programme for the next two decades and we sincerely believe the advances being made in ballistic missile defence technology is a unique opportunity to develop an holistic approach to security."

He added: "We believe there is a strong basis for the US and Europe to work together to face a common threat." Europe was not looking for a "free ride" but could provide many key technologies to joint missile programmes.

All three chiefs alluded to the agreement as a start to a new era of cooperation and freed up trade between the USA and Europe. Hertrich said: "Boeing and EADS oppose a ‘fortress America' or a ‘fortress Europe'. Instead, we ask our governments to consider an overhaul of export regulations."

Source: Flight Daily News