Lockheed Martin Aggressively Pursuing Missile Defense Export Contracts
By Valerie Insinna
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Lockheed Martin is chasing sales of its missile defense systems at the International Defense Exposition and Conference and expects to ink deals in the future with several international customers including Qatar, Germany and Saudi Arabia, an official from the company said Feb. 24.
Qatar will likely present the company with a formal offer for itsTerminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, within seven or eight months, Mike Trotsky, the company's vice-president of air and missile defense, told reporters during a briefing at IDEX.
The country in 2012 announced its intention to buy the system, which counters short and medium-range ballistic missiles. At that point, it requested $6.5 billion in equipment, including two fire units, 12 launchers, 150 interceptors, as well as communications equipment and radar.
Since then, Qatar has been more firmly cementing its needs and the possible configuration of its THAAD system, Trotsky said.
"Where they are right now is in the process of deciding what their defense design should be … and that entails how many batteries, where they should go, [and] what associated equipment will be necessary,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is also in discussions with Lockheed about purchasing THAAD, though it could take two to three years before a contract is signed, he said.
Germany will likely reach a decision this year on its TLVS or Tactical Air Defense Program program, in which the Medium Extended Air Defense Systemis a competitor, Trotsky said. Lockheed Martin and foreign missile manufacturers MBDA Italia and Deutschland GmbH developed MEADS to replace German, Italian and U.S. missile systems. Raytheon is proposing its improved version ofthe Patriot Air and Missile Defense System
Based on his visit to Berlin several weeks ago, Trotsky’s sense is that the German ministry of defense will make a recommendation to parliament before end of the first quarter of the year, and a final decision will be made before August.
MEADS is also under consideration in Poland, he said. Lockheed and the country’s ministry of defense recently began discussions, but any decision to procure the technology will not likely occur until after the Polish elections this fall.
“This is one of the largest procurements that Poland has ever undertaken, so there's a lot of discussion between the political side and the military side about what the right way to proceed is,” he said. "I think after the election … the newly-elected political body will make a decision.”
Lockheed is also pursuing its first international sales of its newest version of the Patriot missile, the Patriot advanced capability-3missile segment enhancement, Trotsky said. The company received a $611 million contract from the Army last year for production of the first batch of PAC-3 MSE missiles and launcher modification kits. The missiles will reach initial operational capability this summer.
PAC-3 MSE features a new interceptor capable of countering tactical ballistic missiles and air breathing threats that are longer in range and higher in altitude than what its precursor, the PAC-3, can defeat, he aid.
The original PAC-3 missiles are in the inventories of partner nations, to include the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan. Lockheed also has contracts with Kuwait and Qatar. Trotsky anticipates many of those countries will buy PAC-3 MSE missiles within the next five years, he said.
Last year, 18 countries were approved to receive information about PAC-3 MSE, and several of those companies have made inquiries. “I think the first MSE sales will probably be to the Middle East,” but Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific have also expressed interest, he said.
The U.S. military probably does not have the budget to develop and procure a follow-on to the PAC-3 MSE with improved capabilities, Trotsky said. Instead, it will likely invest in improved integration of its missile defense systems. Another possibility is the miniaturization of interceptors so that the services can shoot down unmanned aircraft, mortars and rockets.