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Airbus Reports Solid 2013 Results with Backlog Nearing Trillion Dollar Mark

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* Airbus announced sales up 5% to 59.3 billion euros ($81.5B) and orders worth 218.7 billion euros (about $300B) for 2013. Defense sales grew by 4% to 12.1 billion euros ($16.6B) thanks to initial A400M deliveries. Their defense backlog is down 4.6% to 47.3 billion euros ($65B), but Airbus Defence and Space’s order intake is rebounding thanks to orders in civilian space. Total backlog is up 21% to more than $940B or 8+ years of production and about twice what it was 5 years ago. * This performance raises the question of delivering, then renewing products to sustain the same volumes a few years from now. Other even bigger industrial companies such as General Electrics don’t have such huge backlogs because of shorter average lead times. Too much of a good thing might turn into a liability, and it is at least a risk they will have to manage. * The receipt of France’s first 2 A400Ms was one of the highlights of 2013 for the DGA procurement agency, as shown in its latest yearly report [PDF in French]. Tension in Crimea: Blast from Oblast Past? * The Crimean port of Sevastopol saw an orderly but openly pro-Russian demonstration: video. […]

* Airbus announced sales up 5% to 59.3 billion euros ($81.5B) and orders worth 218.7 billion euros (about $300B) for 2013. Defense sales grew by 4% to 12.1 billion euros ($16.6B) thanks to initial A400M deliveries. Their defense backlog is down 4.6% to 47.3 billion euros ($65B), but Airbus Defence and Space’s order intake is rebounding thanks to orders in civilian space. Total backlog is up 21% to more than $940B or 8+ years of production and about twice what it was 5 years ago.

* This performance raises the question of delivering, then renewing products to sustain the same volumes a few years from now. Other even bigger industrial companies such as General Electrics don’t have such huge backlogs because of shorter average lead times. Too much of a good thing might turn into a liability, and it is at least a risk they will have to manage.

* The receipt of France’s first 2 A400Ms was one of the highlights of 2013 for the DGA procurement agency, as shown in its latest yearly report [PDF in French].

Tension in Crimea: Blast from Oblast Past?

* The Crimean port of Sevastopol saw an orderly but openly pro-Russian demonstration: video. Sevastopol is technically administrated apart from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea surrounding it. Tensions have been reported in regional capital Simferopol between Tatars and pro-Russians. Statements from Russian officials lend credence to the idea that Russia will try to pull Crimea apart from Ukraine an back into the fold.

* Vladimir Putin ordered one of these surprise readiness drills he’s grown fond of, in the Western Military District bordering Ukraine.

Doubting China’s Silk Route

* Kanwal Sibal, a former ambassador and foreign secretary of India, rejects China’s diplomatic overtures across the Indo-Pacific region as a cynical proposal:

“China’s maritime silk route proposal is too self-serving to receive our support.”

Germany’s Posture: Just Words?

* Unlike Robert Pollard at CSIS, John Hulsman, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, takes as mere rhetoric recent statements from German politicians that the country will really step up its foreign and security policy. Don’t expect much more than training or logistical support in the near future.

Drones Droning On

* Christopher Davis argues in Foreign Policy that “autonomous fighting machines” are an expedient way for the executive branch to maintain a perpetual state of war with little oversight. This is still a stretch given current capabilities, but near-term science fiction often turns out to be prescient. Whether humans will decide to override the machine, even if it’s wrong, is a already a relevant question today.

Pentagon Priorities

* The American Enterprise Institute hosted a conversation with acting Deputy Secretary Christine Fox today to discuss the FY15 budget. Fox is to be replaced by Bob Work, if/when Senator McCain [R-AZ] lifts his hold on Work’s nomination (the two men disagree on LCS). Video below:

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