MADRID — Spain will likely begin a competition this month for the procurement of air defense missile systems with the aim of signing a contract by late July, according to María Durán, who leads the Spain-based arm of MBDA.

“We expect a tender to be announced by the end of May and the signature of a contract by late July for the procurement of air defense missile systems. We are ready to provide more than 600 Mistral 3 to the Spanish air, naval and land forces,” Durán told Defense News at the exhibition.

She added that deliveries could begin as early as 2025 and span out to 2032. It’s unclear how the systems would be divided among the military services.

MBDA showcased three different models of missiles at the FEINDEF defense conference in Madrid, running May 17-19: the Meteor, the Brimstone and the Mistral 3. The latter is in service with French forces.

Spain is reportedly allocating €330 million (U.S. $358 million) for the launch of a program to buy anti-aircraft missiles.

The Spanish Army did not return a request for comment from Defense News by press time.

For MBDA, this is a long time coming. Durán said discussions around the country wanting to acquire the Mistral 3 have taken place since at least 2015, but efforts were put aside due to a lack of money.

However, the situation is different than eight years ago, with the Spanish government pledging considerable defense investments to meet the goal of spending at least 2% of gross domestic product on defense by 2029. NATO, of which Spain is a signatory, encourages its members to spend that amount annually.

The Mistral 3 short-range surface-to-air missile is equipped with an infrared imaging seeker and advanced image-processing abilities, allowing it to engage low-thermal signature targets such as drones and turbojet-powered missiles. In March, the company’s chief executive said MBDA is accelerating the production of the Mistral 3 from 20 to 30 per month as a result of the European-wide pressure to supply more weapons.

European countries are on a shopping spree as they look to both continue arming Ukraine, which is under invasion by Russia, and fill gaps in their inventories left over by donations to Kyiv.

Mistral missiles have been in production for more than three decades and are operated by dozens of militaries in different configurations around the world. The latest variant has demonstrated the ability to intercept a moving target at ranges of 8 kilometers (5 miles).

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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