CORRECTION: This story has been adjusted to clarify attribution from public sourcing. The original story also misstated the dollar amount for Sweden’s defense budget.
LONDON — Sweden is believed to be very close to making a decision on an air defense system, according to a Raytheon official at DSEI, a defense conference in London, England.
Sweden is holding a competition for an air defense system where the U.S. Army’s Raytheon-manufactured Patriot air-and-missile defense system and French consortium Eurosam’s SAMP/T missile defense system are going head-to-head.
This is not the first time the two offerings have been pitted against one another in a European missile defense competition. They both participated in Poland’s Wisla competition. Poland is on a path to select Patriot after many years of debate on whether the selection meets all the country’s requirements.
Michael Tronolone, the director of Europe and NATO international business for Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems division, told Defense News on Wednesday he anticipates Sweden will make a selection in the very near term, which would mean the issuance of a letter of request.
The Swedish air-and-missile defense competition experienced a small delay past an expected award timeline as the defense budget as a whole was debated within the Swedish government.
According to news reports last month, the Swedish government will spend $1 billion on defense in the next three years and is expected to include a line item for air defense. The budget will be made public on Sept. 20.
Forward progress with the budget is reassuring industry competitors that the country is committed to buying a system, according to Tronolone.
An entire Patriot battery and SAMP/T are both involved in Sweden’s three-week military exercise Aurora 17 that kicked off this week. It is the largest military exercise in more than 20 years in the country. More than 1,000 U.S. soldiers are involved.
Raytheon is highlighting one of its new systems at Aurora — the deployable Patriot ICC — essentially a dismounted fire-control center, which can be taken out of the vehicle on a couple of stacks and moved to a tent or a building to support tactical operations in a more flexible way.
“What that allows is now the stand-alone Patriot batteries can be deployed anywhere around the world” with connectivity to the broader NATO command-and-control architecture, Tronolone said.
The capability was also showcased during a previous European exercise this year — Tobruq Legacy.
Patriot’s presence at exercises like Aurora has piqued the interest of countries that previously believed the system was unaffordable. “You are really seeing an interest, and countries have a newer perspective on pricing. I think for a long time some of these countries thought they couldn’t afford Patriot,” Tronolone said, but the wide variety of customers globally has driven down the cost.