Potential Developments in European Test and Evaluation

Potential Developments in European Test and Evaluation – International Consolidation versus National Protection

For many years the ivory towers of the European defence sector have been consolidation and collaboration. The European Defence Agency (EDA) considers these twin peaks one of if not their only “raison d’être”. Further in the NATO alliance much weight is given to commonality and interoperability. Such a position has clear operational and financial benefits but in some quarters it has been suggested instead that it is closer to a cornerstone of the success of the USA’s political, defence, industrial complex. Such assertions are hardly surprising given the size of the American defence budget, the size of their contribution to the alliance, the close relationship of Federal and State Government with “local” defence contractors and the investment in R&D by US original equipment manufacturers. All of which have contributed to the preponderance of American weapons, systems and platforms among the Armed Forces of Europe.

By contrast, the major nations of Europe have continued to separately develop weapons and systems (METEOR and STORMSHADOW two honourable exceptions) despite the total value of the top 5 national defence budgets in Europe equating to approximately one-third of US investment in defence. Where collaborations do occur on major platform programmes such as: Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado, CNGF and A400M, national interests and cultural differences lead to significant delays in realising the desired military capabilities. Consequently, how likely are recent bi-lateral agreements such as the Anglo-French defence and security accord or the Franco-German memorandum on defence test and evaluation to succeed and will they lead to a new era of collaboration and consolidation?

Collaboration in Defence Test and Evaluation in Europe has several precedents including:

  • Anglo-French agreement on hydrodynamic testing
  • NAMFI the established NATO Missile Firing Installation in Crete
  • Joint Test and Evaluation Plan for Meteor
  • The Anglo-French accord on missile design, development and manufacture

Yet there remain many advanced capabilities within Europe that are: under-utilised, searching for third-party income and competing with each other on National and International programmes. What drives this choice and what could be a realistic alternative?

A major contributory factor to the future of both collaboration and consolidation within Europe is the national desire to maintain a Defence and Technology Industrial Base. Investing in national programmes is seen as critical to both maintaining an expertise base and realising defence exports, both of these contribute to growth in GDP. A second and equally important factor is the potential impact on local employment of out-sourcing defence capabilities such as test and evaluation where thousands of staff are employed in both the Public and Private Sectors. The final and potentially dominant factor is the proverbial “line in the sand”; every nation has its own list of defence capabilities that must remain in country, which might include:

  • Special Forces
  • Electronic Warfare
  • Nuclear capabilities where established
  • Munitions manufacturing capability
  • C4ISTAR

Against this background those seeking collaboration and consolidation may find their options limited to technologies that do not necessarily provide a battle winning capability. If we acknowledge that every nation in Europe with a defence budget will strive to maintain the level of indigenous capability implied by the list above how can the European nations create a more realistic and better utilised defence test and evaluation base and what would be the benefits?

To consider the question posed above we need to look at the basic dynamics between the European inventory of modern weapons and the availability of expertise, facilities and capabilities to test, evaluate and train in war-like scenarios with them. Across Europe there are perhaps a dozen nations that possess the expertise, infrastructure and test and evaluation ranges capable of exercising modern weapons and smart munitions to their fullest extent whilst there are 30 or more nations who already have or are planning to acquire such military capability. Among the dozen there are some unique capabilities but also a significant number of duplicate facilities. By using, in a more intelligent way, the extensive set of European test and evaluation facilities across national boundaries our defence sector could: increase utilisation, reduce national costs and increase collaboration through familiarity breeding trust and confidence. Consequently Europe creates headroom to compete more effectively with the USA in markets both within Europe and across the world. The challenge is how!

Collaboration and consolidation in Europe does not start with a blank page as I hope I have shown by the observations made above. What we can do however is change the nature of the discussion by moving on from capturing every nations’ facilities to expressing what Europe alone and through NATO needs by way of a Defence Test and Evaluation Base for the future; this could be based on the recently published NATO 2020 recommendations. A start has been made on this by the EDA but unfortunately the starting point was not what Europe needs but how Europe will cut costs by forcing collaboration and consolidation. I would therefore like to suggest an alternative approach to stimulate this essential development.

Step 1. Agree that this is a Europe-wide initiative through the EDA supported by NATO
Step 2. Acknowledge that every nation round the table has their own national capability requirements and agree them based on genuine need and investment not national “chutzpah”
Step 3. Identify and agree unique European test and evaluation capabilities – two examples from the air weapons domain are: The UK Hebrides which is the only METEOR and AMRAAM war-shot capability in Europe, FMV Vidsel in Sweden the largest overland range in Europe by a factor of 10,
Step 4. Identify and agree the pre-eminent national test and evaluation capabilities that support the future needs of the defence sector and request that they lead on the development of a road map for a particular expertise leading to the requisite consolidated Europe-wide capability
Step 5. Support the consolidation with the negotiation of the necessary defence accords to ensure access to the consolidated facilities and security of national data within the specialised Europe-wide capabilities created by implementing step 4
Step 6. Re-direct the funding from consolidated facilities into the R&D essential to a modern, competitive European-wide defence sector that can truly compete with the USA

©MORTAR and PESTLE: Blending the Perfect Opportunity Pursuit Strategy

It is a well-established truism, particularly in the Public Sector world of competitive tendering, that there are only two types of winner in any competition: the company or consortium that actually wins and the teams of bidders who withdraw before sacrificing too much profit! As companies look for higher win probabilities in the tenders they choose to pursue more and more emphasis is being placed on successfully identifying, assessing and planning the opportunities to invest time, money and energy in.

There are many different and well-used opportunity assessment tools and methodologies but nearly all require a thorough understanding of: your market position, the strength of the competition and the potential of alliances. A detailed example can be found at:

Http://www.rti.org/pubs/mr-0003-0802-liao.pdf

The MORTAR and PESTLE approach looks to bring together many of the key aspects of these different methodologies into a simple and memorable form.

PESTLE is the most commonly used assessment framework that looks at the external environment influencing the opportunity. For those unfamiliar with the model PESTLE looks at the:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Socio-cultural
  • Technological
  • Legal and
  • Environmental

factors at play in the chosen market that will have a direct bearing on the opportunity under assessment and the delivery environment should the competition be won. An excellent summary of PESTLE analysis is presented in Exploring Corporate Strategy 7th Edition pp 65-8 by Johnson, Scholes and Whittington published by Prentice Hall in 2006.

©MORTAR[1], for those with any of: a scientific training, a classical education or a penchant for making their own spice mixes, is the natural partner to PESTLE. In the context of competitive strategy MORTAR is all about the internal factors that can affect the practicality and value of pursuing a particular opportunity. The key questions within the framework are described below.

Market:

Assess the company’s position in the market where the opportunity lies, what is the company’s market share, strength, standing, and reputation?

What are the explicit and implicit customer needs and wants as expressed by the company’s business development discussions, the contract announcements and the actual tender documents?

Who are the competitors, what are their strengths, weaknesses and standing within the market, how does the customer view them?

Organisation:

How will the company approach delivery, does it have acceptable or value-adding methodologies that will stimulate customer support?

If the competition was won how would the product or service be achieved and what can be the growth pattern?

Can the company make money; is the competition worth winning from the perspective of top and bottom line profitability?

Where does the opportunity sit within the company strategy for products and markets (the Ansoff Matrix) or is it a must win contract to protect market position, company relationships or customer confidence?

Requirement:

What are the explicit and implicit requirements (as opposed to wants and needs) identified by the customer?

What are the required levels of delivery performance and quality standards?

Are there any explicit performance metrics that must be addressed?

Has the business development or tender clarification process exposed any hidden requirements that can give the company an edge?

Can the company offer any “Big Improvements For Free”, i.e., opportunities and approaches that can discriminate or differentiate the company’s offer from the competition?

Track record:

Can the company show successful previous delivery if so will their customer recommend or endorse the company’s efforts?

What is the current level of delivery performance on contracts of a similar nature and are the measures sufficiently robust to provide one or more case studies?

Can the company demonstrate in the tender process methodologies, flowcharts and metrics that prove that the work can be done and delivered effectively with efficiency and value?

Alliances:

Is the chance of success greater if the company establishes an alliance, JV or SPV with a potential competitor or a player from an adjacent or similar market segment?

If the possibility of an alliance increases win probability is the company confident enough in its existing relationships or prepared to invest time an money in developing new relationships to create a profitable operational alliance?

Can the company broaden its coverage and increase its competitiveness by entering into an arrangement with one or more organisation and would the customer condone or resist such a move?

How will the business model improve and profitability increase by using an alliance strategy rather than a go-it-alone approach?

Relationships:

Does the company already have a relationship with the customer base and if so how good is that relationship?

Does the company have or can it establish contacts with all the appropriate levels within the customer’s organisation?

Can the company map the customers, stakeholders, buyers and gatekeepers i.e. just how much does the company understand the customer for the opportunity?

Does the company have sufficient insight into the customer’s wider community of advisors, influencers, political connections and community relations? Any or all of which will influence the outcome of the competition

While the MORTAR and PESTLE may not provide the comprehensive coverage sought by some organisations it does provide an accessible, memorable and readily used framework that should help business make the right choices when considering the pursuit of competitive tenders.

Happy Blending,  Alan Morpeth August 2015

[1] Based on an original idea by Alan Morpeth in Winter 2010