German aerospace industry association BDLI warns that future growth in the sector is under threat from proposed cuts to national defence spending.

The warning comes despite continued improvements in the performance of the German aerospace sector as a whole with BDLI reporting total sales of €15.7 billion ($19.1 billion) in 2003, an increase of 2.3% on 2002.

EADS co-chairman and BDLI president Rainer Hertrich says exports accounted for 71.7% of total sales by the aerospace sector during 2003. Overall civil aviation sales slipped to 61.3% from 63.8% in 2002, with this attributed to the overall global slump in commercial aviation. Military sales rose to 31.3% of total sector sales, up from 27.6% in 2002.

Reinvestment by companies into research and development totalled 17.2 % of overall sales, or €2.7 billion for the period.

However, Hertrich says that moves by the German treasury to cut defence spending are jeopardising Germany's core role in the European aerospace sector and threatening the modernisation of the German defence forces.

He says that reduced defence spending will mean Germany is not able to "adequately safeguard our security, nor will it enable the necessary process of transformation [in the German military] to take place."

German defence spending is also insufficient to "take full account of the new challenges as far as military research and development are concerned. Germany can no longer afford to shirk the necessary technological developments in the areas of network-centric warfare and unmanned air vehicles.

"It's possible for governments to employ spending cuts constructively. But rather than tweaking the knobs, at the moment they are tearing them out. It's time to put the defence budget back on a reliable financial footing," he says.


Source: Flight International