WARSAW, Poland — Poland's leading state-run defense group PGZ has signed a letter of intent with Raytheon to cooperate on a Polish missile defense program, paving the way for the country's acquisition of Patriot missiles, PGZ said in a statement.

"The signed letter of intent positions the Polish industry as an important component of the Global Patriot program, including the transfer of key technologies. It also opens the doors to the Polish industry to enable its participation in the modernization programs of 220 Patriot systems operated by 13 countries," PGZ said in a statement.

The move has been praised by Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who said that the deal will have a decisive impact on plans by the ministry to acquire an air and anti-missile defense system.

"The letter of intent means that the company and partner which are most likely to implement the Polish missile defense system are Raytheon and the US government," Macierewicz told local news agency PAP.

The latest development comes ahead of the NATO summit, which is scheduled to be hosted by Poland on July 8 and 9 in the country's capital Warsaw.

PGZ was set up in 2013 to consolidate Poland's fragmented state-owned defense industry. The Polish Ministry of Treasury remains the main shareholder of PGZ, but the group is subordinated to the country's Ministry of Defence.

PGZ consists of more than 60 companies with a workforce of 17,500. Its aggregate annual revenues are about 5 billion zloty (US $1.26 billion).