Representatives from the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération
en matière d’Armement (OCCAR)—the European Joint
Organization for Armaments Cooperation—recently discussed
how this body is affecting U.S. defense firms that compete in the
OCCAR was created in 1993 as a French-German initiative to unify
differing national policies for the development and procurement
of joint armaments. In 1996, it was expanded to include Italy and
the United Kingdom. It became a legal entity in 2001, following
ratification of a treaty by the four founding nations.
OCCAR acts as a multi-national agent on collaborative projects
for its member countries. It seeks to harmonize requirements, improve
the efficiency of defense-procurement systems, encourage the formation
of integrated defense contractors and eliminate the complex web
of disparate national procurement rules and regulations that previously
The Italian Defense Minister has described OCCAR as “the
outcome of the need of the European allies to harmonize defense
planning and operational requirements and to adopt joint procurement
policies in order to make the best use of financial and technical
OCCAR includes a board of supervisors (BoS) and an executive administration
(EA). The BoS is made up of the national armaments directors of
member nations and is the decision-making body of the organization.
The EA is the organization’s central day-to-day management
office and is responsible for implementing the decisions of the
Additionally, for each armament program that OCCAR supports, a
program committee is established, including the program manager,
customer representatives from member nations and representatives
OCCAR is founded on the principle of an open structure to manage
multiple procurement projects efficiently for many countries. Other
nations may join, if they wish to become involved in a collaborative
equipment program and agree to accept OCCAR’s rules and regulations.
The Netherlands, Spain and Belgium all have applied to join, and
Sweden has expressed serious interest.
Non-Western European nations can apply for membership, but they
must receive unanimous agreement from all OCCAR partners to join.
Although it is doubtful that the United States would ever apply
for membership, it can choose to participate in OCCAR-managed programs
as a non-member nation. OCCAR-managed programs (and their national
sponsors) include the:
Other programs currently under active consideration for integration
into OCCAR are the A400M military transport aircraft and the ship-borne
Principal anti-air missile system.
Many in the U.S. defense industry view OCCAR as the initial seed
for a pan-European arms-procurement agency and potentially the template
for the next generation of European procurement organizations.
Waiting and Watching
OCCAR representatives addressing a seminar co-sponsored by NDIA
said that this would not necessarily be the case, but U.S. industry
representatives have adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude.
Clearly, as more European nations seek to become OCCAR members,
they can be expected to fall under increasing pressure to acquire
European-produced defense equipment.
As this article goes to press, the U.S. government does not recognize
OCCAR as a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer, but U.S. defense
contractors can supply equipment and services to OCCAR-managed programs,
either as prime or subcontractors. In such instances, OCCAR continues
to serve as the agent/manager for the programs, but the end users
on the export license are the member nations, not OCCAR. To date,
U.S. companies have served only as in a subcontracting role.
New opportunities for business with OCCAR are advertised regularly
on its Web page (http://www.occar-ea.org) and in the contract bulletins
of the European Union and participant nations. Companies may register
their interest with the OCCAR Central Office via regular mail, e-mail,
Normally, OCCAR places a contract through open competition. New
business opportunities are published, providing details of how and
when interest must be shown, as well as the type and size of the
proposed contract. Bids for small contracts may be submitted directly
to OCCAR-EA via email. For large contracts, a registration of interest
is required in order to receive a request for proposal. It should
be noted that traditional European “offset” policies
have not been applied to OCCAR contracts.
NDIA’s International Division will continue to track OCCAR’s
progress and provide updated information to our members about new
European procurement rules and their potential impact on transatlantic