Sweden will buy Patriiot systems; + background on the failed attempts of Lockheed Martin to enter European market with its MEADS.
On August 8th, Sweden signed a contract to purchase Patriot missile defense systems from the US.
The signing comes just one week, after on August 1st, Sweden announced its intention to purchase the Raytheon-made Patriot air and missile defense system.
The signing of the contract was announced to the media by a statement from the Swedish government. The statement was as follows: “Today, the government decided to authorize the armed forces to purchase a new medium-range air defense system. At the same time, the government decided to allow the Defence Materiel Administration of the armed forces to conclude an agreement with the United States on the purchase of the US Patriot air defense system.”
According to a US State Department notification to Congress of the possible weapons sale to Sweden, the deal included four Patriot Configuration 3+ Modernized Fire Units — the latest variant of the system — including 100 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhancement Missile-TBM missiles and 200 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) missiles for $3.2 billion. The PAC-3 MSEs are the most advanced interceptors on the market for the Patriot system. According to Lockheed Martin, which builds the interceptors: “The PAC-3 MSE incorporates a larger, dual pulse solid rocket motor; larger fins; and upgraded actuators and thermal batteries to accommodate increased performance. The modifications extends the missile’s reach.”
It is yet unclear if that is the final cost, because it is always subject to change with negotiations. Regardless of the price, it is unclear how Sweden will pay for the systems. As reported by Defense News on July 6th, “latest organizational strength assessments, produced by the Swedish Armed Forces for the Ministry of Defence, suggest the military will lack adequate funding in 2019-2020 to cover its day-to-day operational needs or to proceed with key procurement programs, including the purchase of Patriot missiles.”
Furthermore, the major parties in Sweden support the purchase, however the opposition is against it. The opposition is concerned that the purchase of the defense system may leave no funds for other operational needs, with some of them requesting to provide a special allocation outside the normal defense budget to cover the purchase.
Sweden is not part of NATO, however it has close relations with the alliance. It has also been in the process of increasing its armed forces. As reported by Sputnik, after Romania became the 14th country to purchase the defense system back in 2014, Poland and Sweden have joined that list. There has been an increase in NATO activity in Sweden as of recent years. Sweden’s biggest military exercise in 23 years was a NATO organized one. Aurora 17, took place between September 11th and 23rd, 2017. It saw more than 20,000 troops carry out drills supported by US and French air defence units. In 2016, Stockholm introduced an agreement that allows NATO forces to be deployed in Sweden, but only with the host country’s permission.
The deepened ties with NATO are most likely a result of the Russia’s bolstered armed forces and increased presence in the Baltic.
As reported by Defense News, the deal also marks yet another big lot of PAC-3 MSE missiles sales to Europe. Lockheed plans to double its production capacity of the missile to accommodate the massive surge in sales, particularly abroad.
However, Lockheed Martin has had little success with its Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) in Europe. Lockheed had a deal to deploy MEADS in Germany, which was supposed to be signed in early 2017, however due to delays it was not. As of March 6th 2018, the deal for the MEADS system is supposed to be complete by the end of 2018, due to long delays.
When asked why the MEADS contract has been delayed by nearly two years, Frank St. John, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire control said: “There are a couple of things that created the situation that we are in. One is this is a sole-source and the German process for doing a procurement of this magnitude sole-source is pretty deliberate, and they want to make sure they are getting exactly what they want and that they are getting it at exactly the right value. And so, they are going through a pretty detailed process there.”
Furthermore, MEADS was initially proposed while it was under development by the US government and that is the version Germany wanted, according to St. John. “Not everything about MEADS as it came out of U.S. development is exactly what the Germans wanted, and so there have been some detailed discussions about specific threats, specific interfaces, specific command and control unique to German use,” he said.
As reported by Defense News, The MEADS program remains in limbo since the end of the technology development program between Germany, Italy and the U.S. It was initially supposed to replace the Patriot system in the US. However, the country decided not to procure the MEADS.
Raytheon and Lockheed were competing for the European medium-range air and missile defense systems market. It was a sort of race, in which if Raytheon signed a deal with Poland for the Patriot system, analysts, cited by Defense News, thought that other European countries would follow suit. However, if Lockheed Martin was capable of concluding the deal with Germany they would have the advantage and the EU countries would follow Germany’s example.
However, the US signed a contract with Poland for a first phase Patriot at the end of March. And following suit, Romania signed a deal for the Patriot and now Sweden has also joined the ranks. Lockheed Martin’s MEADS system appears to have been unsuccessful in Europe.