Lockheed Martin eyes Patriot interceptor production in Spain

Lockheed Martin eyes Patriot interceptor production in Spain

MILAN — Lockheed Martin has forged a partnership with a Spanish firm for the production of interceptor missile parts for the Patriot air-defense system, a move that could help alleviate a bottleneck in manufacturing the sought-after systems.

“Lockheed Martin has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Grupo Oesia to enable potential future production of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement components in Spain,” the American company wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, on April 22.

The agreement will allow the Spanish multinational engineering company to manufacture PAC-3 MSE parts for international customers, according to the statement. It builds on existing ties between two companies, as executives signed a letter of understanding at last year’s Paris Air Show to become strategic partners.

The PAC-3 MSE missiles are launched by the Patriot air defense system, made by Raytheon, and they rely on kinetic force to bring down a wide range of aerial threats, including ballistic and cruise missiles as well as aircraft.

Lockheed is on tap with the U.S. Army to reach a yearly production rate of 550 missiles at its Arkansas manufacturing site. In a December interview with Defense News, Brenda Davidson, the company’s vice president of PAC-3 programs said that they had attained a rate of 500 per year.

Air defense, and the lack thereof, has shaped Russia’s war against Ukraine, as Moscow’s forces target critical infrastructure and population centers.

“If Ukraine is a guide, in a conflict NATO air defenses may down most drones and missiles, but some will get through. … They might reduce risks with a two-prong strategy of strengthening air defenses and boosting infrastructure resilience,” a recent report published by the American think tank RAND Corporation stated.

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency recently awarded a contract for 1,000 missiles on behalf of Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain for the acquisition of 1,000 PAC-2 guided enhanced missiles, the predecessor to the PAC-3 MSE variant.

The deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, went to COMLOG, a German-based joint venture between Raytheon and MBDA. The two companies strive to increase the European production capability of these missiles.

In a recent interview with Defense News, Tom Laliberty, Raytheon’s president of land and air defense systems, said group orders enable states to get discounts on the hefty price tag of the Patriot system.

The distribution of the missiles is derived on the basis of which of the ordering countries needs them most urgently, he added.

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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