European missile house MBDA has reported record orders for 2015 — €5.2bn — thanks mainly to export orders for Rafale combat aircraft and Fremm frigates from Egypt and Qatar. New export orders reached the exceptional level of €3.6bn, substantially outstripping new domestic orders for the fourth year in a row. Revenue picked up significantly in 2015, at €2.9bn, after reaching a low point of €2.4bn in 2014 as European defence budgets came under pressure.
With a "book-to-bill" ratio well above 1 for the third year running, MBDA has reinforced its order book, which totalled €15.1bn as of 31st December 2015—enough to keep the company busy for five years. A major recruitment plan is under way to cope with the expected increase in business. In 2016, the group plans to hire a thousand people, mainly in France and the UK.
In terms of industrial cooperation, 2015 was marked by a new step in the One Complex Weapons strategy, with the first output from the specialised Centres of Excellence for French and British programmes and the signing of an agreement between the governments of both countries. At the end of December, France officially awarded the contract to develop the Aster Block 1 NT anti-missile missile. On 3rd March 2016, the Franco-British summit in Amiens confirmed the decision to launch a joint concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme.
Meteor completed integration tests on Gripen in 20115 and should enter operational service with the Swedish Air Force this year. Integration of Brimstone on the Eurofighter Typhoon also got under way last year.
The land combat segment was marked by the success of MMP development firings, paving the way for qualification tests early this year, with first deliveries scheduled for 2017.