03 August 2018

Interview with Didier Philippe, vice-president of MBDA company, specialized in missile systems production: Romania is a priority for the company

Mihai Draghici

Romania is very high on MBDA’s priority list, specialized in missiles systems production, says, in an interview for MEDIAFAX and Defence and Security Monitor, Vice-president Didier Philippe.

Didier Philippe, MBDA’s vice-President, presented, in an interview for MEDIAFAX and Defence and Security Monitor, the company’s priorities on the Romanian market.


Mihai Draghici: Mr. Didier, thank you for accepting the interview. I want to ask you, first of all, what’s Romania’s position, at this moment, on your company’s business interests map?

Philippe Didier: well, I think it is high on the list, we have been working for many years already with your forces, to try to define the best solutions to fulfill the operational requirements. Ten years ago, we were already discussing on short range action anti-aerial system, for the benefit of your Air Forces and the Army, and that was a main subject. At that time there was no budget, so the discussion led to the definition of a program integrated to the air system, which now becomes a program approved by the Parliament, waiting for the budget to come; we are working on it, to propose a solution which is not only for fulfilling the operational requirements, but also of the desire of the country to revitalize the industry.

As you know, your country decided to raise the defence budget to 2% of GDP, out of it 20-40% is for investments, that is a lot of money, and it is mandatory that this money not just to go outside the country, but also to be used for revitalizing the industry. This is why we build our file in order to involve as much as possible in your industry. As you remember, on 21 of August, the visit of France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, then we signed an agreement with your industry, with Romarm and Electronica Ploiesti, so since that moment we have been working hard with them in order to give substance to this agreement in terms of transfer of technology, transfer of production and long-term maintenance.  This is for three types of missiles, obviously the anti-aerial defence missiles for army and air force, Mistral and Mica, but also with the same missiles, for the defence program of corvettes and the retrofit of the frigates. You can imagine that it is a big advantage to have the same missiles for the Air Force, the Army, for the Navy, and more than that, these missiles are produced locally in Romania and maintained locally in Romania. That is the project, so yes, to answer your question, it is very high on the priority list.

Mihai Draghici: what are your assessments about the business environment in Romania? What are its problems and its advantages?

Philippe Didier: one of my colleagues came here for the first time in 23 years, when we sold the Magic Systems to Air Forces, and he was really astonished to see the evolution on the country from the last period. Romania is now a modern country, a lot of European countries have invested in Romania, France being one of these. But there was one field where there was no budget, and that is defence. Therefore, you need now to catch up, which means to acquire technology, to invest in modern equipment, to train the people. You cannot do that without two things: first the money, that is why it is important to adjust the defence spending to 2% of GDP and to have a partner who is ready to cooperate, a partner who is not afraid to cooperate, and as you know, MBDA is made of cooperation; cooperation with French companies, British companies, German companies, Italian, Spanish. All together are the MBDA number 2 in the world for missiles systems, and number 1 in Europe. This is what we can offer to Romania, to join the transfer of technologies, transfer of production and catch up in all the technologies where there was no investment in the last 20 years.

Mihai Draghici: do you consider Romania a stable country, with a stable government?

Philippe Didier: Obviously, politics is not my activity field, but Romania is a Romanian democracy, with elections, president, government, ministers changing whenever the politic needs. Elections are one of the advantages of the democracy, so talking about a European democracy the changes are part of the life.

Mihai Draghici: are you worried about some things in Romania, I mean the business environment, the regulations?

Philippe Didier: I think we, MBDA, we exported our systems to various governments in many countries, we have to adapt to the local rules, we have to understand, we have to be as close as possible to the desires of the country, to the rules they want to apply. That is our job and we are happy to do it.

Mihai Draghici: thank you very much!

Philippe Didier: my pleasure!