MBDA and Lockheed form joint venture for Germany’s TLVS missile defense system

MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin announced on Thursday a new joint venture expected to become the prime contractor for Germany’s next-generation integrated air and missile defense system, called TLVS.

Negotiations between the company, called TLVS GmbH, and the Bundeswehr procurement office are underway for the new system.

“We support Germany’s role as the lead Framework Nation for Air and Missile Defence for NATO and believe the MEADS-based TLVS system is the next-generation solution that will provide the long overdue 360-degree, mobile Air and Missile Defence coverage they need to accurately identify and defeat threats,”  Frank A. St. John, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control, said in a press release.

MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar, shown in its German configuration
The MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar, shown in its German configuration, can detect and track advanced threats with 360-degree coverage and no blind spots. Unlike fielded radars, it is highly mobile and C-130 transportable. Image: MEADS International, Inc.

The TLVS program is based on the trilateral Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program developed for Germany, Italy and the United States and managed by NATO.

The short- and medium-range system is designed to defend against tactical, short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, combat aircraft, helicopters, drones and cruise missiles. The system is mobile, and can be transported by Airbus A400M aircraft.

MEADS is intended to replace the Patriot missile system in Germany and the U.S. and Nike Hercules in Italy, but the program has been delayed by nearly two years after $4 billion in investments. The Pentagon decided in 2011 not to procure the system and Germany last year delayed the TLVS contract ahead of the federal election.

The German foreign ministry said in June that the government hoped to conclude negotiations for TLVS by the end of 2017 and approve the contract this year.

Formed in 2001 by a merger of France’s Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles (Airbus), Alenia Marconi Systems of Italy (now Leonardo), and the U.K.-based BAE Systems’ division Matra BAe Dynamics, MBDA is currently working on a number of other missile and missile defense programs.

On November 8, France and Italy signed a letter of intent with Turkey, paving the way for Ankara to purchase surface-to-air missile systems from the French-Italian Eurosam consortium. The letter allows Eurosam – owned by MBDA and Thales Group – to “analyze and define the needs” of the Turkish military for the three nations to cooperate “in the domain of anti-aircraft defence and surface-to-air missiles,” according to AFP.

Four days later Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli announced that Ankara plans to work with Eurosam to develop an air defense system and to own the technology with Turkey’s “own local resources.”

MBDA also developed the Brimstone precision strike missile for the U.K. Royal Air Force, live-fire tests of which was successfully completed on November 3. The German Luftwaffe announced in 2016 that it would procure Brimstone 2 dual mode missiles for their fleet of Eurofighter aircraft from 2019.

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