PARIS — Pan-European missile maker MBDA and Norway’s Kongsberg snubbed a Swiss tender for a new medium-range air-defense system, leaving the door open for Germany’s Diehl Defence as the sole potential bidder for the contract.

Kongsberg and MBDA informed Swiss defense-procurement agency armasuisse they won’t submit offers due to time constraints, armasuisse spokeswoman Samanta Leiser told Defense News in an emailed response to questions. The evaluation process will continue as planned, with Diehl remaining as a potential manufacturer, the government office said in a statement on Friday.

Switzerland in April decided to join the Germany-led European Sky Shield Initiative, for which Diehl is a partner for the medium-range component with the Iris-T SLM system. Armasuisse said participation in ESSI doesn’t preempt any decision on what air defense the country is buying, though other partners in the initiative have picked Diehl’s system.

“Armasuisse is awaiting the receipt of the offer from the remaining manufacturing company by mid-July,” the office said. “Apart from the costs, a decision in favor of the remaining candidate in the third quarter of 2024 is dependent on this candidate submitting an offer which meets the requirements of armasuisse.”

Leiser declined to comment on the budget, how many systems Switzerland is seeking or what the delivery timeline will be. The Swiss parliament is currently discussing buying the system within the 2024 defense plan, rather than in 2025 as previously envisioned.

The alpine country in 2016 suspended a previous project to modernize its air-defense system, terminating a contract with Thales for purchasing preparations. Switzerland in 2022 agreed to buy the Patriot system for longer-range, ground-based air defense.

Kongsberg had been asked to provide a quote for the NASAMS system, according to company spokesman Ivar Simensen, who said the company has no further comment. MBDA didn’t respond to requests for comment, while Diehl also didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Slovenia in January agreed to buy one Iris-T SLM fire unit, consisting of a radar component, a tactical operations center and four missile launchers, through the German federal office for defense procurement. Estonia and Latvia signed framework agreements with Diehl in September to buy the system within the framework of ESSI.

One of Switzerland’s criteria is that the system must already be successfully in use. The country also says inclusion of Swiss industry in the contract is “of particular importance,” with a demand that the entire purchase price is compensated with offsetting transactions in Switzerland. “There is no flexibility” with respect to the offset requirement, according to Leiser.

Iris-T SLM is designed to defend against aircraft, cruise missiles and drones to a range of up to 40 kilometers. Diehl says the performance of Iris-T SLM in Ukraine has been “excellent,” achieving “close to 100% hit rate” even during attack waves with more than 12 targets.

Separately, Kongsberg said it signed a contract with the Norwegian Defence Material Agency to the initial development phase of the German-Norwegian supersonic strike missile, or 3SM, set to be deployed on naval vessels from 2035. The contract value for the first development phase is up to 1.5 billion kroner (U.S. $131 million), the company said in a statement on Friday.

Kongsberg, Diehl Defence and MBDA Deutschland agreed in May to set up a partnership for joint development of the new missile.

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

More In Europe
Biden drops out of 2024 race
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin praised Biden for his "profound and personal commitment to the Department of Defense and the American military" on Sunday.