Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Supporting Atlas: Franco-British Co-operation to Service Europe’s Military Airlifter

Benoit Giry, Andy Smith

Abstract


Extract

-----

Abstract

European defence policy clearly remains heavily dependent upon the equipment of the French and British armed forces. What remains largely unknown, however, is the extent of co-operation between these forces to maintain this equipment and thereby transform theoretical capacity into actual military capability. Drawn from a study of such bilateral cooperation over servicing the Atlas (A400M) airlifter, this article shows that modest levels of co-operation have developed but also that deeper collaboration continues to be blocked by unfavourable organisational and political structures. The first level of differentiation concerns contracting with the aircraft’s manufacturer (Airbus): the British have delegated nearly all support activity to this firm, whereas the French have retained most of it ‘in-house’. Secondly, the two countries’ defence industrial policies continue to differ significantly. In the British case, defence industrial base concerns are now addressed on a bespoke basis centred upon market conditions in general, and competitiveness of supply in particular. Conversely, neo-dirigiste interventionist industrial policy still dominates French equipment support. Weak bilateral co-operation over supporting the Atlas is therefore best explained by using constructivist political economy to unpack the problem definitions and policy instruments it has entailed, together with the national hybrids it has bolstered.

Keywords: A400M – contracting - defence equipment support – industrial policy


References



Full Text: PDF