COLOGNE, Germany — German defense officials are negotiating with contractors Lockheed Martin and MBDA Deutschland about a bid proposal for a next-generation anti-missile program that the government believes is missing crucial components, according to a new Defence Ministry report.
Information about the status of the high-profile TLVS program, short for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, is included in the latest, unclassified portion of a biannual assessment by the ministry on the progress of key military acquisition programs.
The document constitutes the ministry’s first public evaluation of the American-German industry consortium’s second and final bid, submitted in June.
“The analysis of the second offer shows that the proposal still falls short of the government’s requirements because key elements and services were not included, some of which had been previously agreed,” the document stated. Additionally, some performance requirements, which are left unexplained in the report, were not addressed in the industry bid, it added.
Talks with the companies are ongoing to clarify outstanding issues by the end of 2019, the Defence Ministry wrote.
Overall, the government considers the program to be “fragile” based on a high degree of technological and managerial complexity. That is compared to a more upbeat assessment in the previous report, dated June, which found “significant progress” was made over the previous six months.
The Ministry of Defence did not respond to a request for comment on what elements the Lockheed Martin-MBDA proposal was lacking. A Lockheed spokesman referred questions to the German government, writing in an email: “It is a matter for the German MoD to comment on the content of its latest project report and position relating to TLVS.”
The report offers an explanation for why defense officials have been unable to articulate a time table for submitting the multibillion-dollar program to the German parliament for consideration. For one, the government must first wait for a Foreign Military Sales process to play out with the United States over access to key performance data of the Lockheed-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptor, the primary missile of the TLVS system. Germany launched the petition for the requisite goods and services in April 2019.
In addition, officials are unable to formulate a path for integrating a secondary interceptor into the system, the IRIS-T SL, to be made by Germany’s Diehl Defence, officials wrote. That is because the most recent Lockheed-MBDA proposal lacks the detailed interface documentation needed to integrate such an interceptor into TLVS. Without that information, however, officials are unable to solicit a bid from Diehl, according to the report.
German officials consider the ability to use IRIS-T missile a must-have for TLVS because those missiles are domestically made and because they are cheaper.
Amid the runaway program complexity giving officials headaches, the government still appears to believe in the promise of the TLVS system as a replacement of the country’s fleet of Patriot batteries. If it can be made to work, the military expects a “technological advantage” that will position the country as a NATO leader in missile defense, the report stated.
Officials will make decisions about the way ahead after ongoing talks with industry come to an end, it added.
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.