PARIS — Thales and European missile maker MBDA have signed two letters of intent for cooperation with their local partner Wojskowe Zakłady Uzbrojenia (WZU) as part of a joint bid for Poland's Wisla air defense system, the defense electronics company said Monday.
Poland is looking to order a medium-range missile defense system, with European partners Thales and MBDA competing with Raytheon, which is offering the Patriot weapon.
"Thales and MBDA today signed two letters of intent (LOI) with Wojskowe Zakłady Uzbrojenia SA (WZU) giving Polish industry full autonomy in the production and maintenance of the missile launchers and missile reloaders, as well as system responsibility for the maintenance of the overall Wisla medium-range air and missile defense program," the electronics company said in a statement.
If Warsaw awarded the Wisla contract to Thales and MBDA, local partner WZU would be responsible for a final assembly plant for the launcher for the MBDA Aster 30 block 1 missile and a planned block 1 new technology version.
WZU and other Polish companies would build "major "equipment" for the launchers and reloaders, handle training for the Wisla system, and work on design of the reloaders, the statement said.
The second LOI agreement covers long-term cooperation between MBDA, Thales and WZU on logistical support, with the Polish partner acting as the point of contact for the Polish defense ministry for logistics, training and service, the statement said. WZU would deliver support at the system level and manage repairs with local firms supplying sub-system components, the statement said.
MBDA also signed an LOI with Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnow for production of missiles transit and storage equipment, the statement said.
"As a result, the cooperation set out in these letters of intent will enhance Poland's autonomy in supporting its future air and missile defense system," Thales said.
MBDA and Thales are partners in the Eurosam joint venture, which is looking for exports of the Aster weapon. The French Air Force displayed a command post, radar and launcher of its Aster missile, dubbed Mamba, at the Polish MSPO exhibition in September, Eurosam said on its website.
BAE Systems and Airbus each own 37.5 percent of MBDA; Finmeccanica owns the remaining 25 percent.