VIDEO CONFERENCE | ADA Series: Major updates from the European Primes

FACCI was delighted to welcome 50 attendees from all over Australia for its video conference on Major updates from the European Defence Primes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on economies around the world, how will the Defence sector in Australia be impacted?

The objective of this video conference was to assess the short, mid and long-term impact of COVID not only on Airbus and Thales' operations, but also on their supply chain strategy. In a time of heightened social and international tensions, we also discussed the long-lasting impact of COVID-19 on the shape of Defence Policy and Business in Australia.

After the panel session, our attendees had the opportunity to participate to a Q&A and networking session, which was a great opportunity to discuss directly with our speakers and share with other attendees.

Many thanks to our 2 speakers, Andrew Mathewson from Airbus Australia PacificChristopher Edwards from Services, Thales for their instructive presentations and precious insights, as well as Gregory Delannoy for facilitating the session.

Please find below a brief summary provided by our 2 speakers:

Thales

  • being stable within Australia and maintaining customer commitments through COVID-19.
  • working on Business Excellence Programs with supplier network
  • occurring further virtual "Supplier Roadshows" in the near future
  • focus on innovation and on five key sectors, from aerospace to ground transportation, space, digital identity, defence and security

Airbus

Offers and business:

  • The COVID-19 situation has not impacted our customer level of operations on existing platforms, hence tempo of required support from Airbus has not decreased.
  • Recent offer to extend operational life of Tiger and provide Defence with an alternative to replacing the platform. 500 jobs preserved and sizeable cost savings compared to acquiring a new platform via Foreign Military Sales.
  • Recent offer submitted (LAND2097 Phase 4) for Special Forces Helicopter, with strong focus on Australian Industry Capability / Local partners (Team Nightjar:  www.teamnightjar.com.au )

COVID19 – Immediate Impact and Actions:

  • Strong impact of COVID19 on Airbus in general, in particular for commercial aircraft. General downturn for aviation industry.
  • Local impact limited, Defence platforms mostly not impacted, civil helicopters impacted by downturn of aviation industry.
  • Supply Chain impact limited, great resilience demonstrated during crisis.
  • Airbus Australia Pacific COVID initiatives:
  • Analysis of possible reconfiguration of Airbus A330 for strategic airmobile operations (similar to use of Airbus platforms in Europe for aeromedical evacuation)
  • Support to local aerospace industry impacted by COVID, e.g. partnership with Burrana and use of their engineering personnel otherwise impacted by downturn.  

COVID-19 – Long-term impact on Defence Policy:

  • Geopolitical context – increased uncertainty
  • Ongoing need for Defence platforms – schedule will be more and more key to allow capability to be effective when required in the uncertain geopolitical environment
  • Defence temptation to go with Foreign Military Sales due to lower schedule risks perception – But to be balanced against Australian sovereignty and maintenance/development of skills required locally – need to consider the full ecosystem of Defence, increase partnership with research and local Small and Medium Enterprises with key skillset/technologies to support Defence.
  • Airbus well placed on innovation to support Defence with next generation of technology required to maintain technical edge: Use of Big data/Artificial Intelligence for Predictive maintenance (e.g. Skywise), expertise in space technology, drones. Airbus also well placed in civil world with key research for the future of aviation industry (e.g: reduced carbon footprint, electric plane).
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