PARIS — Raytheon Missile Systems is looking at pulling together a consortium of NATO-based industrial partners to build components for the Standard Missile-3 as part of a move to cement the weapon’s position in NATO’s growing ballistic missile defense effort.
Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile’s president, said the company envisages a possible partnering arrangement for the SM-3 similar to that used to produce the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM). But Lawrence warned that achieving the goal is likely to be a lengthy process.
The Raytheon boss also said during an interview at the Paris Air Show last week that the company was continuing to explore the potential for setting up a pooling arrangement for SM-3s in the event European NATO navies opt to acquire the weapon.
“Now that NATO has stood up and said it will contribute to the missile defense mission, we are looking at a possible creation of a pool of SM-3s for the missile defense mission. We are also defining the content that potential partners could bring to the table in a number of different technology areas,” he said.
In March, the SM-3 moved a step closer to possible adoption by some NATO navies for missile defense when the US company successfully tested the ability of the weapon’s dual-band datalink to exchange information with a Dutch X-band radar.
The missile was originally designed to operate with US Navy Aegis combat weapon systems operating in the S-band.
Norway and Spain are the only European navies with Aegis ships, and neither deploys the SM-3.
The Dutch, Danish and Germans have had discussions over the SM-3’s capabilities, but none of the navies appear close to buying the weapon.
“We haven’t concluded an actual partnership on that specific program, but you can look to examples like the ESSM consortium and you can imagine something similar. It may take a while to bring together the same number of countries as we have for ESSM , but over time you can imagine a few countries joining a potential consortium for SM-3 and contributing to the Euro missile shield,” Lawrence said.
Raytheon already has an SM-3 industrial link with Japan, and Lawrence said there was openness in the US to look at partnerships for specific capabilities.
“It would depend on issues like which country and which company are involved, but as long as there is core competency in a particular technology, we are certainly open to bringing them into the architecture,” he said.
“I would like to see it happen in the short term, but my feeling is it will probably take a little longer as it will take a while for each of the NATO countries to decide what their contribution is going to be to the overall missile defense posture, and once they decide that they will then determine the level of investment they are willing to make and whether they will just buy missiles, supply platforms or buy radars,” said Lawrence.
“Hopefully they will come up with something because the threat from Iran is real, although we will see how it goes with the new government [in Tehran],” he said.
Global missile defense and the infrastructure requirements that surround it are one of the bright spots as Raytheon Missile looks to grow revenues from international sales.
Compared to some of its rivals, Lawrence said, Raytheon Missile was “doing pretty good.... Our portfolio is wide and we have a good global footprint, selling to 50-plus countries, and that helps us weather some of the US [budget] issues we are facing.
“We are helped by a robust order backlog,” he said.
“We are concerned about the US budget process, but we are more concerned about instability than the actual numbers .....right now there is not a lot of certainty about what the budget numbers will end up being.
“I would encourage our leaders to pick a number and work to that from a budget standpoint and not do sequester because it’s not a good way to do budgeting. But we also continue to grow. It’s not just about wringing our hands; we share our concerns with elected officials but move forward,” said Lawrence.
Part of that move forward strategy could come in Europe. The company has an industrial presence here already, and Lawrence said Raytheon is continuing to look at opportunities to invest in the region.
“We are always looking for technologies to add to our portfolio and bring in capability, especially from Europe. If it brings a technology to the company or if it opens a market to us, particularly in Europe, we are certainly looking at that,” he said.