Operational with 12 nations, of which five are NATO members, Raytheon’s Patriot air defense system is pursuing three key campaigns in Europe as part of a global resurgence in interest in the system. That trend has already resulted in Qatar signing a letter of acceptance for Patriot this week. With the U.S. Army committed to Patriot through 2048, Raytheon is working on a new-generation Patriot and other developments to maintain the system’s viability in the face of emerging and future threats.
The Wisła (“Shield of Poland”) air and missile defense (AMD) program is the largest and most far-reaching defense procurement ever in the post-Communist history of this NATO border nation. The program has immense implications for Poland’s national security even under normal circumstances, but the invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian region of the Crimea by Russia, and an escalating Russian-backed incursion in the eastern regions of Ukraine, has upped the stakes in this program.
The tri-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) remains in limbo, with the $3.4 billion nine-year development program scheduled to conclude this year and no production order in sight from the U.S., Germany or Italy. But at a briefing last week during the ILA Berlin airshow, program officials said that Meads meets Poland’s stated air and missile defense (AMD) requirement. The Meads International industrial consortium, which currently comprises Lockheed Martin and MBDA’s German and Italian companies, is offering to make Poland an equal partner.
Late last month Raytheon announced that it had received contracts worth $71.7 million to continue upgrading its Patriot air and missile defense system for the U.S. Army. The latest contracts, which add a modernized radar digital processor (RDP) and modern man station (MMS), highlight the continuous development that is being applied to the Patriot to keep it at the forefront of the air defense arena. The Patriot system has now conducted 2,500 search and track tests, and around 1,000 flight tests.
Lockheed Martin announced that the troubled, tri-national, medium extended air defense system (MEADS) underwent its first flight test, at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) on November 17.
Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully undertook a sophisticated “two versus two” trial-firing last month, and the air defense system has just completed a final review regarding the possible sale to the United Arab Emirates, which could be announced imminently.
The Patriot air defense missile system was designed by Raytheon and first fielded in 1984. Four years later, a missile defense capability was added, mainly through changes to the guidance software. In the 1991 Gulf War, the system had mixed success against Iraqi short-range Scud missiles, and it became clear that its blast-fragmentation warhead was inadequate to the task.
The Asia/Pacific region is continuing to provide Raytheon with ample opportunity to demonstrate its versatility as a solutions provider across a wider range of capabilities spanning air traffic control, pilot training, missile defense systems and security. The U.S. group now has clients and partners spanning a vast triangle between India, Japan and Australia.