Sonaca Group and BAE Systems have signed an agreement to collaborate on opportunities around the Eurofighter Typhoon programme and future aerospace technology.
The two companies will look to explore a wide range of potential joint working opportunities, including:
• Collaboration on advanced manufacturing work packages around future development of the Eurofighter programme as the aircraft continues to be enhanced;
• Participation in new European-based future defence aeronautical programmes;
• Exchange and development of innovative unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technologies; and
• Opportunities to share manufacturing technology and Intellectual Property.
The co-operation agreement, signed in Charleroi, includes a commitment from Sonaca to support the proposed establishment of two National Innovation Centres in Wallonia and Flanders, a key part of the Eurofighter industrial proposals for Belgium, should Belgium choose Eurofighter to replace its current F-16 fleet. It is envisaged that Sonaca would join BAE Systems in becoming a founder member of the centres and help develop the Research & Development agenda.
According to figures based on analysis conducted by Oxford Economics, the two Innovation Centres, which are part of the wider Eurofighter industrial proposal for Belgium, could potentially create €2.9bn turnover over 25 years.
Anthony Gregory, Campaign Director for Belgium at BAE Systems, said: “We are delighted to sign this agreement with Sonaca and are looking forward to developing an exciting and long-term relationship between our two companies. Eurofighter is the true European proposal for Belgium, and we are committed to providing long term sustainable growth for Belgian industry, further developing the country’s world-class capabilities in manufacturing technology. These technologies would position Belgium and Belgian industry for a role in a next generation aircraft programme with European partners. Working together with Belgium’s largest aeronautical company demonstrates our intent and ability to deliver.”
Bernard Delvaux, CEO of Sonaca Group, said : “This collaboration agreement is another step in Sonaca’s support to the BAE Systems-led European consortium for the Eurofighter programme. The signature of this cooperation agreement will improve our expertise and know-how as a leading Belgian aerospace company. Sonaca Group is already working in close relationships in the civil aircraft sector with Airbus and we are happy to further develop our relationship with the different partners in the Eurofighter programme.”
Sonaca is the latest Belgian company to sign an agreement to support the establishment of the Innovation Centres. It comes after BAE Systems, Airbus Defence & Space, Leonardo and MBDA signed an agreement to support their establishment last year. Several major UK research and manufacturing organisations have also pledged their support.
The two centres would focus on advanced and additive layer manufacturing, with partner companies investing together with Belgian industry in the development of research agendas, targeted at future technology requirements. The centres would look to leverage skills which exist in Belgium’s top level supply chain and encourage new technology development across the SME community by providing significant resources for those companies to access.