Defence contracts pipeline set to run dry with Government spending cuts

Posted on 31 May 2012

A severe lack of government contracts in the pipeline will lead defence firms to cut spending on R&D, according to Sir Brian Burridge, vice president at defence firm Finmeccanica UK.

Sir Brian Burridge, who also chairs the defence sector board for the trade body ADS, stated that the lack of money available for future contracts at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will hinder the UK’s ability to innovate and create products sold all over the world.

Speaking ahead of the 2012 Farnborough Airshow, Sir Brian said: “There are less new projects, and therefore less funding for R&D projects. This is unhealthy [for the industries we represent], because companies are less able to develop unique sovereign technologies.”

Gordon Lane, managing director for defence at ADS, added that the opportunities for the sector lie overseas. Because of this, technological and price competitiveness are vital if the UK is to continue selling to global leaders such as the US.

“Exporting to the US is the overarching aim for us. They have a huge military budget and are known to be willing to spend large amounts of money to remain technologically superior on an international level.”

Gordon Lane, managing director for defence at ADS.

Citing the case in which a Chinese employee of Boeing was caught with a large number of highly sensitive product schematics, TM asked how manufacturers should deal with the rising problem of intellectual property (IP) theft, given the increasing level of sophistication, ease of access and decreasing price of 3D printers benefitting criminals.

“Companies need to ensure that they have an extremely strong cyber defence system in place: luckily these are on offer and work well,” said Sir Brian.

European aerospace group EADS commented that 3D printing makes sensitive information easier to intercept. “3D Printing is a step-change in manufacturing as design is freed from engineering constraints and production is integrated into today’s network society,” said a spokesperson for EADS.

“While this means that someone in the UK can send a CAD or computer design to ‘print’ out on the other side of the world, it also increases the vulnerability to Intellectual Property theft as scanning physical objects into a CAD model or hacking into a network, means that replicas and reverse engineering can become rife,” he warned.

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The Farnborough Airshow takes place between 9-15 July. The trade exhibition runs from Monday (July 9) to Friday (July 13), and the Public Airshow takes place on the weekend.

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