European NATO States Making Strides on Antimissile Projects

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 1, 2014, 8:08 a.m.

After years of ca­jol­ing by the United States, a num­ber of European al­lies are mov­ing for­ward with new in­vest­ments in their mis­sile de­fense sys­tems.

Po­land an­nounced last month it would sig­ni­fic­antly speed up the time table for choos­ing a vendor to provide the coun­try with a mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, a so-called “Pol­ish Shield.” The move co­in­cides with rising anxi­et­ies in Warsaw about Mo­scow’s re­cent land grab in Ukraine and con­cerns that Rus­si­an ag­gres­sion could drift fur­ther west­ward.

There is a “strong pos­sib­il­ity” that Po­land could nar­row the field of bids to just two de­fense firms as early as June, said Marty Coyne, who leads air and mis­sile de­fense busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for Lock­heed Mar­tin, in an in­ter­view with In­side De­fense in late March.

Lock­heed is pitch­ing the Me­di­um Ex­ten­ded Air De­fense Sys­tem — a mo­bile bat­tle­field an­ti­mis­sile sys­tem that provides 360-de­gree cov­er­age.

Ber­lin, which has par­tially fun­ded de­vel­op­ment of the an­ti­mis­sile sys­tem, could de­cide in the com­ing months wheth­er to pur­chase units, Coyne said. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment is presently car­ry­ing out a study of its op­tions. Rome — an­oth­er source of pro­gram-de­vel­op­ment funds — also is ex­pec­ted to make a de­cision soon, he said.

“We would ex­pect a pos­it­ive de­cision to come out of Italy this spring, fol­lowed closely by Ger­many and Po­land,” the seni­or Lock­heed of­fi­cial said. “We are not over­con­fid­ent but we think we stand a good chance that all three na­tions will see the be­ne­fit of mer­ging in­to a single MEADS fol­low-on pro­gram.”

Also in the run­ning for the Pol­ish con­tract are Ray­theon, a French in­dustry team of con­sist­ing of Thales and MBDA, and the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment, In­side De­fense re­por­ted.

Mean­while, Turk­ish pro­cure­ment of­fi­cials re­portedly are weigh­ing wheth­er to scrap a con­tro­ver­sial plan to buy Chinese mis­sile in­ter­cept­ors and in­stead es­tab­lish the de­sired na­tion­al an­ti­mis­sile cap­ab­il­ity us­ing loc­al de­fense firms, De­fense News re­por­ted on Monday. Faced with strong NATO op­pos­i­tion to the Chinese plan, Ank­ara has giv­en U.S. and European de­fense firms un­til the end of April to sweeten their earli­er con­tract pro­pos­als.

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