The world order’s structure is facing major upheavals. Tensions inside and outside the EU, degradation of transatlantic relations, resurgence of authoritarian regimes, increasing of new stakeholders, rising of new hybrid warfare forms, weaponization of Space as well as technological breakthroughs, are all challenges which politicians, militaries, defence industrials, academics, but also students and future decision makers, will have to analyze and face, to assure tomorrow’s security.
These Defence Summer University 2018 (UED) will definitely be an opportunity to foster this collective reflection exercise to which AIRBUS is glad to contribute.

The period opening up is characterized by a relaunch of reflections and projects on European defence and Franco-German military cooperation, fostered by a renewed strong political impulse. These issues are familiar to Airbus; all the more so as they were core elements in the creation of our company which intends to be a major player of the undertakings initiated for one year in the Paris-Berlin-Brussels triangle.

But if the challenge is political, it is also industrial. In order to face up to threats, Europe needs to strengthen its strategic autonomy. To this end, it is essential to develop key technologies and strategic capabilities in order to guarantee European independence only made possible with a real control over the equipment of the armed forces.

More than ever, defence remains at the heart of Airbus' strategy to remain the leading company contributing to defence and security in Europe. With EUR 11 billion in turnover in this sector in 2017, it ranks first in the European Union. In France, Airbus is the first supplier of the DGA, with 1.9 billion payments in 2017, to which must be added more than 500 million for maintenance activities and 100 million for R&T financed by the Ministry of Defence.

This reality binds Airbus, as an essential partner of the armed forces for their major strategic functions. The company provides, in conjunction with its industrial partners, high-tech solutions that meet customers' expectations in defence and security and anticipate these expectations (A400M, Tigre, NH90, and soon MRTT, CSO, HIL, mission aircrafts, VHR700, Syracuse IV, MALE RPAS and FCAS/NGWS, or space surveillance). Through its controlled subsidiaries MBDA and ArianeGroup, Airbus is also a major historical contributor to deterrence capabilities, through the oceanic and airborne components, as well as intelligence capabilities.

In order to ensure the best possible availability and the lowest operational cost for the equipment delivered, cost-efficient maintainability from the design and the conduct of new military programs is also a priority. This is a key priority for the projects we are in charge. It is for instance at the core of the HIL/H160M conception. Considerable progresses are today allowed by digital tools developed in the field of commercial aviation like the Skywise platform, and shall benefit massively to military programs.

Networking between and within defence systems also becomes an asset of capability development. It makes it possible to increase the effectiveness of the forces and their agility, while opening the way to optimization of use of means. In return, it creates new vulnerabilities that are now clearly identified. This major evolution in the building of military capabilities is at the heart of the solutions of the future to meet operational needs. Our air platforms (helicopters, drones, mission aircraft, etc.) are now considered as elements of integrated systems of systems. This continuum between platforms, communication systems and information systems opens the field of possibilities and prompts Airbus to become an industrial player in satellite communications, with COMCEPT today and SYRACUSE IV tomorrow.

Digitization opens up new avenues for performance improvement, through a significant contribution to the design, production and support of future military systems and equipment: interconnected platforms, pseudo-satellites, UAVs, robotisation, cyber defence, big data and artificial intelligence, etc.

It will greatly increase operational performance by reducing program development periods, accelerating the maturity of new equipment and implementing new concepts to support the lifecycle of equipment.

In order to cope with technological breakthroughs and developments, some of which could fuel the instability of the geostrategic environment, and to ensure that Europe guarantees its own defence and security, a revitalization of defence cooperation is necessary. Airbus, a European company, intends to be the spearhead of a defence industrial base that is globally competitive. The major programs we are carrying out are, for the most part, already being carried out in cooperation and producing remarkable shared operational capabilities, which would have been out of reach on a purely national basis.

But this is still insufficient in a field characterised by national preferences, while the efficiency of public spending could be increased and the capacity for innovation strengthened through economies of scale. Cooperation between France and Germany can be a driving force for future programs to overcome these difficulties and, with renewed governance rules, to be politically and technologically efficient.