Tim Ripley

A growing family of "smart" guided weapons is at the heart of the newly-formed Italian-British missile partnership, Alenia Marconi Systems.

The missile divisions of the two companies were joined six months ago when their parents formed the 50:50 joint venture, linking their defence electronics, simulation, training, missiles, air traffic control and command/ communications businesses.

Paris is the first major show at which the new unified missile operation is on display, says Kevin Taylor, managing director of the UK arm of the missile business. The new combined missile operation employs some 1,500 people at a number of sites in the UK and Italy.

Taylor declines comment on speculation about the future of the Anglo-Italian link-up after the purchase of Marconi Electronic Systems by British Aerospace later this year. Speculation has suggested that the new company could be rolled into a European "super missile company" or even that BAe could sell off its stake in Alenia Marconi Systems. "It is all crystal ball gazing," says Taylor.

"We have a very complementary set of products selling in different markets," says Taylor. "The UK is strong in the Middle East and Italy has good contacts in South America and as partners in European collaborative projects such as PAAMS."

At Paris the focus of the company's efforts will be as part of the European Meteor team bidding in the UK's beyond visual range air-to-air missile contest. The UK elements are using their expertise on the Brimstone anti-armour weapon to design the next generation of beyond visual range missile, says Taylor.

"We are also bringing to the party our experience of smart procurement," he says. The Italian half of the company is involved in the missile's development.

The company is also promoting its new Aspide 2000 air-to-surface missile at Paris.

Projects under way include combining Marconi's seeker technology with the Italian Marte helicopter-launched anti-ship missile. The company has entered its Striker GPS guided bomb in the UK contest for this new class weapon, which is to decided in the autumn and is offering the US military its Diamond Back strap-on wing kit for to extend the range of several purpose 0bombs.

Source: Flight Daily News