Germany forced the European missile manufacturing company MBDA to stop exporting “Meteor” missiles to Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s leadership of the Saudi-UAE Coalition in Yemen. Germany’s objection to the exportation of this type of missiles to Riyadh was met with the dissatisfaction of Paris and London, where the European company specialized in the manufacture of missiles is based, since many European countries are similarly involved. This move has prompted political movements in Germany to demand to impose tight measures on joint weapons manufacturing programmes with France, in terms of exports.
In 2014, Riyadh signed a deal with the European side to buy Meteor air-to-air missiles worth $ 1 billion. Saudi Arabia wants to arm the European Typhoon fighter jets that it will buy with these missiles. La Tribune newspaper reported that the European company refused to comment on Berlin’s objection to the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia. This type of missile has been used in Typhoon fighters since last December. It was designed to destroy and neutralize air targets located at long distances. La Tribune pointed out that the French side involved in the manufacture of the Meteor missile seeks to produce components alternative to the components that Germany manufactures in the framework of military cooperation between six European countries. Berlin produces missile engine and its explosive material.
The newspaper added that Meteor missile is intended to arm the armies of Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and France. The British branch of MBDA is overseeing the Meteor project in cooperation with the company’s subsidiaries in the involved countries. The missile was designed to operate on the French fighter Rafale, the European Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen. France’s former arms commissioner, Laurent Collette Bellon, said that without the Meteor missiles, it would be challenging to export Rafale aircraft.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reported on 21 September that German Ambassador to Paris Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut had sent a telegram to officials in Berlin informing them of the results of his meeting with senior officials of the French Ministry of Defence and the Secretariat-General for National Defence and Security of the Prime Minister.
At the meeting, the French side asked for guarantees that future products made in the framework of military cooperation between the two countries would be exported without restrictions; otherwise, bilateral cooperation programmes would be futile. On the other hand, the German side saw that Paris’s rigid position threatened to carry out such programmes.
The French-German dispute regarding military cooperation projects was echoed in the German political arena. The Social Democratic Party and The Greens (Green Party) demanded strict restrictions on joint arms production programmes with France, about exports.