A new co-operation agreement between EADS and MBDA of Europe and Russia's Sukhoi and Rosoboronexport was prompted directly by the pre-Iraq War meeting in Paris between French president Jacques Chirac and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, speaking here at the show.

Thomas Enders, chief executive of EADS' newly constituted defence and security systems division, MBDA chief executive Marwan Lahoud said that the two leaders were determined to reinforce defence co-operation between France, Russia and Germany and that the agreement was the first concrete sign of the joint will of the three governments.

Yesterday's announcement establishes a wide-ranging framework. The partners will now set up a working group to develop issues within it.


"The idea is to see how systems from EADS can be brought to bear on modernising the very good aircraft produced by Sukhoi," said Lahoud.

"We may also examine the possibility of integrating certain MBDA missiles with Sukhoi aircraft. Now that the agreement has been signed, it's a matter of working out the details."

Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) and joint product support activities are other areas of potential co-operation.

Lahoud added: "This co-operation with Sukhoi will be mutually beneficial as it will give us both market opportunities." Fitting MBDA products on a new family of aircraft would benefit the missile house, while it would also expand the Russian fighter's export potential.

However it is understood that the provision of MBDA products for Sukhoi will be limited to French-originating missiles. In particular, it is understood that there may be interest from the Indian air force in integrating the Mica air-to-air missile with its Sukhoi Su-30 fleet.


There is concern among some parties to the agreement that it will be perceived as a snub to the US, a hangover from the split over the Iraq conflict. Industry sources said yesterday there is absolutely no intention to further aggravate Washington.

EADS joint chief executives Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich described it as "an important move in our strategy to further develop the EADS defence business globally.

"EADS believes that innovation is our competitive strength and the teaming agreement with Sukhoi is important for the development of future defence systems."

Mikhail Pogosyan, Sukhoi's general director, said the agreement "is a major milestone for Russian-European co-operation in the defence industry and combines the strengths of two world leaders".

Sukhoi officials declined to add details to the short statement issued by the partners announcing the framework.

Source: Flight Daily News