MONTREUX, Switzerland --- Leading European defense companies warned Friday that cuts to military programs could cause long-term harm to the industry's research and development capabilities, even as they looked beyond the continent for new business to make up anticipated shortfalls.
Multinational programs such as the Eurofighter jet and Airbus A400M military transport plane were essential to preserving future R&D capacity, said Domingo Urena-Raso, chief executive of Airbus Military and president of European defense industry group ASD.
"It's not the moment to destroy all these things," he told reporters on the sidelines of an industry meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.
Governments across Europe have indicated that austerity budgets won't spare the continent's defense spending, prompting alarm in a sector long used to strong state support.
In Brussels on Friday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that too many cuts would eventually undermine security.
"There is a point where you are no longer cutting fat (but) you're cutting into muscle, and then into bone," Fogh Rasmussen said. "We have to avoid cutting so deep that we won't, in future, be able to defend the security on which our economic prosperity rests. And we cannot end up in a situation where Europe cannot pull its weight when it comes to security."
He suggested that pooling of resources among allies could be one of the ways out of this situation. "In NATO, we will streamline our command structure so it delivers what we need but costs less. We also need to look at pooling scarcer resources together, so we can buy and do things together that individually we couldn't afford," Fogh Rasmussen said. (end of excerpt)
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