Trends in European Defence Industries in the 1990s: An Assessment

Deba R. Mohanty was Associate Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi
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  • October 2004

    Significant changes have been witnessed in major centres of military production in recent times. Since the end of the Cold War, indicators of military production – expenditure, R&D expenditure, demand and supply of weaponry, and others – have shown fluctuations. Military efforts of States decelerated for nearly a decade, only to rise again since the late 1990s. The changing international security scenario has necessitated such changes, to which major centres of military production have responded in many ways – efforts towards concentration, diversification, conversion and privatisation are some of the objectives that the States have strived to achieve in their defence industrial strategies. In this context, as major centres of military production, the European States have faced many challenges. A strikingly difficult task in their case has been the search of a viable unity in political and strategic terms, which could shape the defence industry, among others, to their aspirations. This paper argues that while trends in European defence industries are moving in different directions, it is the future political shape of the Union that could be the driving force. It argues that the ‘muddle through’ scenario is likely to continue for some more time amidst two opposite contemporary trends – a common European defence industrial base and a trans-Atlantic defence industry.

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