WASHINGTON — MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin announced March 8 they have unified efforts to bring Germany’s next-generation integrated air and missile defense system, called TLVS, to life under a joint venture.

The joint venture, rather than either company, will be considered the prime contractor for TLVS, according to Lockheed Martin. The contract is being negotiated with Germany’s procurement office for the country’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Defense News had reported this week that the establishment of a joint venture was imminent.

MBDA and Lockheed Martin will split the equity from TLVS, with MBDA getting 60 percent and Lockheed receiving 40 percent, a Lockheed spokeswoman confirmed.

Lockheed’s Gregory Kee and MBDA’s Dietmar Thelen will lead the joint venture operating out of MBDA’s office in Schrobenhausen, Germany. The joint venture will also operate out of Dallas, Texas; Huntsville, Alabama; Syracuse, New York; and Ulm and Koblenz, Germany.

“With this joint venture, we will have the agility and ability to successfully make timely decisions in an integrated fashion. We will also have direct access to the most advanced test and simulation facilities and the pooled expertise and resources of MBDA and Lockheed Martin,” Thomas Gottschild, MBDA Germany’s managing director, said in the statement. “That’s how we’ll bring this important defense program to fruition for Germany and NATO.”

TLVS will “set an important precedent in how neighboring nations address current and evolving threats for decades to come,” the statement says.

Lockheed has partnered with MBDA Germany for more than 15 years on air and missile defense solutions, according to Frank St. John, executive vice president of Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control business.

The companies specifically worked together on a multilateral project involving the U.S., Germany and Italy to develop the Medium Extended Air Defense System, which would replace the U.S. Army’s Patriot system. But the U.S. abandoned the program following its proof-of-concept phase and after investing $4 billion. Germany decided it would pick up the reigns and continue to develop the system with plans to ultimately procure it.

The joint venture could help move the process of getting under contract with the German government to build TLVS at a faster rate.

Lockheed and MBDA expected to be under contract by early 2017, but that time came and went with no contract.

St. John told Defense News earlier this week that once the joint venture has been officially established, the company hoped to be under contract by the end of the year — putting the program behind by roughly two years. He had said he expected a request for proposals from the German government by the end of the month.

“It was very important for the German government that Lockheed Martin and MBDA be cooperative at the top line in responding to this requirement, and we are within a few days of having that joint-venture structure in place,” St. John told Defense News, adding that the companies have agreed on all major pieces and that “it’s now a paperwork process of getting it through the German filing process to start a new corporation, if you will.”

Social Democrats in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, called for a stronger integration of Lockheed in the process because of the firm’s expertise in system integration last year.

“We support Germany’s role as the lead framework nation for air-and-missile defense for NATO and believe the MEADS-based TLVS system is the next-generation solution that will provide the long overdue 360-degree, mobile air-and-missile defense coverage they need to accurately identify and defeat threats,” St. John said in a statement.

Lockheed has been hopeful a deal with Germany could mean TLVS sales among other NATO customers.

But while time has slipped to get under contract with Germany, countries like Poland, Sweden and Romania have started to buy the Patriot system from Lockheed competitor Raytheon.

The two companies have been battling for dominance in Europe for years, particularly as more European countries look to buy medium-range air and missile defense systems in the wake of what they consider increased Russian aggression.