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.