Raytheon Company has begun discussions with the Dutch, Danish and German Navies about entering a pooling arrangement of its ballistic missiles in a bid to lower the unit price, according to a Defense News article.
George Mavko, director of European missile defense at Raytheon Missile Systems, said the company had opened negotiations with the three European navies after the SM-3 successfully connected with the X-band radars in a data link test.
The report said Raytheon is in talks with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to co-produce the SM-3 systems in Europe and to entice governments to buy the weapons, with deals expected to develop before the end of 2013.
“Say, in the future, the Dutch, Germans and Danes got together to procure a pool of SM-3s; then they can each dip into that pool as their warships take on NATO ballistic missile defense assignments,” Mavko said.
However, none of the three European countries has expressed interest in purchasing the missile interceptor.
A representative for the Dutch Defense Ministry said the Netherlands has no plans to buy the SM-3 systems but intends to implement the naval ballistic missile defense sensor capability through the SMART-L radar.
Germany and Denmark expressed similar feelings about SM-3.
Initial plans intend only to update the naval X-band radars and other systems to equip SM-3 missiles with target data, according to the report.
Pooling capabilities has become NATO’s priority as alliance members face austerity, according to the Andrew Schuter article.
“We love the capability but just don’t have the money,” said one European military official.
NATO’s interest in ballistic missile defense has grown amid emerging threats from countries such as Iran, he added.
Mavko said production of small parts of the missile is underway in Europe but added that does not mean the U.S. is likely to “release any major subsystems to other countries for co-production.”
Currently, only the U.S. Navy’s Aegis combat weapon system can deploy the SM-3 with the use of the S-band radar as further development and tests are needed to prepare the data link for production.