MBDA is to head a new industry team in delivering the majority of the UK's future complex weapons systems under a new agreement announced at the show by UK minister for defence procurement Lord Drayson, writes Craig Hoyle.

The latest piece in the implementation of the UK's defence industrial strategy white paper, the development is expected to lead to the signature of a new strategic partnering agreement between the Ministry of Defence and the MBDA UK-led Team Complex Weapons (Team CW) this year.

Intended to provide the MoD with increased value for money, industry with long-term assurance over spending plans and to encourage competition in the supply chain, the agreement will end a previous culture of "boom and bust" in guided weapons spending, says Drayson.

UK spending in the sector will halve within the next five years, following a peak caused by its acquisition of MBDA's ASRAAM, Brimstone and Storm Shadow weapons and Raytheon Systems' Paveway IV precision-guided bomb, he adds.

Team CW also comprises Qinetiq, Roxel and Thales, but MBDA says discussions continue about potential involvement by additional manufacturers, including Raytheon. However, Drayson cautions: "Raytheon weren't prepared to enter into Team CW at this time. We want to see the greatest potential participation, but we aren't prepared to wait for everyone to get on the bus." Previous talks have also involved Selex and Ultra Electronics.

The MoD intends to award MBDA a risk-reduction contract to enhance its Storm Shadow missile, including improvements to its mission planning system. It will also fund a technology demonstration programme to investigate future technologies for the long-range strike weapon.

Source: Flight International