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For EADS-BAE Deal to Succeed, Congress Is Crucial

Live firing of a Hellfire missile from a Eurocopter Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter
Live firing of a Hellfire missile from a Eurocopter Tiger Armed Reconnaissance HelicopterPhotograph by Sgt. Mick Bott/Australian Regular Army

On the website of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., the company’s formal response to a possible merger with BAE Systems is offered in four languages: English, French, Spanish, and German. It’s a reminder of how complex running a pan-European enterprise truly is, particularly one charged with being a counterweight to the U.S.’s competitive edge in aerospace and defense.

Further complexity is apparently not a barrier to creating an even bigger European defense colossus than EADS—with €49 billion ($64 billion) in 2011 sales and 133,000 workers—already is. BAE isn’t much smaller: some 93,000 employees and 2011 revenue of more than £19 billion ($31 billion). Nor are the high regulatory and political hurdles such a deal would face in the U.S., the world’s largest defense market.