ECONOMY

The hard job of persuasion in the Greek defense industry

Designing, developing and construction of guided targets for anti-aircraft weapons systems is no simple business – there are only few firms active in this domain worldwide. EADS 3 Sigma is one such Greek company that has grown at a very fast pace in the last three years. It was set up in 1987 at the Hania Industrial Park in Crete, near the Greek navy firing range, while the European Aeronautics Defense and Space company (EADS), one of Europe’s biggest defense consortiums, acquired a 50 percent stake in it July last year. «The company makes unmanned aircraft of various types and capabilities, depending on client requirements. We have been certified by a number of big corporations as regards simulation of aircraft movement and capabilities, which aims to make the movement of targets more realistic,» Dimitris Sarris, company chairman, told Kathimerini. The Sarris family remains in control of 50 percent of the company. «The agreement with EADS opened up many possibilities for us abroad where we had been facing difficulties, mainly in convincing our clients that we were a Greek company. It also offered us financial support, for instance, in letters of guarantee for participation in big foreign tenders. Companies of EADS 3 Sigma’s type undertake the installation of their systems on firing ranges on the basis of contracts lasting from three to five years. The company expects to more than double its 2002 turnover of 7 million euros to about 15 million. «We employ 50 people and will hire 40 more by the end of the year to meet the projected increase in business,» says Sarris. EADS 3 Sigma’s innovative applications include an aircraft that can function with three different types of engine. «In this way, apart from reducing costs, we can vary client requirements with just one type of airplane.» The weapons systems it caters to include Patriot, Hawk, Ossa AK, Stinger and Tor M1. Aircraft are not launched with booster systems – as they are for missiles – that burden the environment, but with special catapults and elastic belts. The company recently added to its arsenal options for night-flight exercises and dogfights. Apart from the Greek navy, on which the firm much depended during its first years of operation, EADS 3 Sigma’s clients include the French armed forces, Britain’s Royal Navy, the Dutch Royal Air Force and large groups such as Raytheon and Thales. The firm expects to soon land a multimillion-dollar deal with the US Pentagon.