COLOGNE, Germany — German Defence Ministry officials have released a long-awaited second and final request for proposals to MBDA and Lockheed Martin for a new missile defense weapon, the company announced on Thursday.

The move caps the first phase of negotiations over the Bundeswehr's TLVS program, short for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, between the government and the trans-Atlantic industry team. In the next stage, officials are expected to hammer out binding cost and technical parameters that would eventually lead to an acquisition contract next year.

The Bundestag, Germany's parliament, still must approve funding for the program at that stage.

Grown from the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS, the weapon is designed to intercept missiles pointed at deployed formations from all directions. If Germany can pull off the project, the acquisition would give the Bundeswehr's air defenders the first-ever fielded system with a built-in 360-degree capability.

Officials in Berlin have been taking their time with moving TLVS forward, arguing that setting the program on a promising path is considered more important than showing results quickly. Failure of the program would deal a colossal blow to a Defence Ministry already reeling from embarrassing reports about shortfalls in military readiness.

“The comprehensive negotiations phase decisively increased our common understanding regarding risks and possible solutions and will ensure the TLVS tender fully addresses BAAINBw requirements,” Gregory Kee, managing director of the TLVS joint venture, said in a company statement.

The unwieldy acronym BAAINBw stands for the Defense Ministry’s procurement organization that oversees all contractual aspects of the program.

The TLVS program effectively is the first large-scale project to pass through new requirements of a novel German defense acquisitions process named Agenda Rüstung. Reforming the Bundeswehr’s acquisition system is one of Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s marquee objectives, making the new anti-missile system a must-win proposition.

In the case of failure, Raytheon is waiting in the wings to sell more upgrades to Germany’s Patriot missile defense fleet. The company teamed with Rheinmetall earlier this year in the hope of selling an integrated air-defense solution to Berlin, addressing also the shorter range of rockets, artillery and mortars in addition to the medium-range segment.

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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