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Lockheed Martin Explores Naval Weapons Link With Europe’s MBDA

Lockheed Martin Corp., the No. 1 defense company, and MBDA, the No. 2 missile maker, are considering cooperation in naval weapons to attract more customers worldwide.

The agreement could lead to offerings of Lockheed Martin’s weapons launchers with MBDA’s new Sea Ceptor ship-defense missile system, Paris-based MBDA said in a statement today. A demonstration to launch MBDA’s Common Anti-Air Modular Missile from Lockheed’s Mk. 41 vertical launcher, used by more than a dozen navies, is planned this year, it said.

European and U.S. defense companies are increasingly seeking sales abroad as their domestic markets shrink and are looking at opportunities from naval modernization in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. The naval weapons market has been dominated by Raytheon Co. with weapons such as the Tomahawk long-range cruise missile and Standard Missile air and missile defense family of interceptors.

“There is a strong logic for MBDA to join forces with Lockheed Martin whose vertical launch systems have a strong presence in the naval market,” MBDA Chief Executive Officer Antoine Bouvier said in the statement. “Working in concert, we will be able to offer greater choice to naval customers around the globe providing them with solutions optimized to their exact needs.”

MBDA is a joint venture of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., BAE Systems Plc and Finmeccanica SpA. It has cooperated in the past with Lockheed Martin, and they are working together on the Medium Extended Air Defense System program to replace Patriot air and missile defense systems in the U.S., Germany, and Italy. Budget cuts mean Meads will not go into production.

MBDA’s Sea Ceptor program is a new ship air-defense initiative for deployment on Royal Navy Type 23 destroyers in 2016 and later equipping the replacement Type 26 destroyer. MBDA secured a 483 million pound ($743 million) development contract last year from the U.K. government to work on the missile that can fly at three times the speed of sound.

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