As Europe refocuses its efforts on deterrence, technology efforts and joint initiatives become even more dire. Industry has a key seat at the table for such efforts. Executive Editor Jill Aitoro spoke to Chris Lombardi, vice president for Raytheon International about regional priorities as well as industry’s role.

I wanted to first kind of look specifically at the Eastern Flank. It’s obviously an area that has evolved in terms of threat. What are the primary requirements for the eastern flank in terms of enhancing security?

If you talk to each individual country, you would probably see a slight difference in how they prioritize. Discussions with a lot of the nations in Europe [are] centered on long-range air defense, and in some cases their missile defense, depending on exactly which country we’re speaking with. Given the last two, three years, the threats that they’re facing, they see an absolute need for long-range air defense and air missile defense in the region, no doubt.

There’s definitely a proliferation of missile capabilities in the region. Since Ukraine, there’s a significant concern that there could be some more movements into the region. The threat they see is obviously the proliferation of missiles. And it’s a whole series of them, not just one type.

Any distinction in terms of the kind of missile defense systems required in that area of Europe versus the rest of the region? Or, from a system perspective, does a company like Raytheon basically replicate the systems throughout?

We see the ability to use interoperable systems, to use same systems from country to country. The problem isn’t just the threat, but budget priorities. So, if you start to talk about using systems that are the same [across the] region, then you can do joint training, joint exercises. You can share resources, you can do long-term planning. That creates significant efficiencies in the economic side of things as well. Especially the smaller nations in the east, they’ve got the ability to really talk about burden-sharing and smart defense. I know those are buzzwords, but they’re true, because if you talk about common systems operating across the region, then you’re going to save money [and have] the interoperability.

Raytheon as a company [has started] to see this. I think you’ve seen the recent announcements in Poland and in Romania, where they’re going to acquire Patriot. That will provide them, along with Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S., the ability to talk about how to do joint training, joint exercises. And, then you can share resources and lessons learned on the systems as well.

I know NATO is involved here, but is there a proper balance to insure that that threat from a regional perspective is properly addressed and balanced with the threats facing individual nations?

Go back to the beginning of the year with the announcement of the multinational forces that were put into the Baltic States and Romania, where they really did have U.K.-led, Canadian-led, German-led, US-led battalions. This was all done in coordination, and now through the Saber Guardian [exercise] they are operating together on air defense to understand what is the common threat, how we can operate together. It shows that these nations aren’t doing these exercises individually, they’re doing it as a group. NATO is leading in a lot of areas, but you see it amongst the nations as well.

That brings up the role of industry. I know Raytheon is involved, but as you look at exercises like Saber Guardian as well as programs and initiatives led by NATO perhaps – is industry getting enough of a voice early on in the process?

We believe that from the beginning of the planning all the way through the delivery of systems, it’s important for us to have our voice be part of the discussion. Ultimately, if countries are doing things with industry’s input, they will have a better idea of where technology gaps exist, where we can contribute on the training side, where we can contribute on the technology side. And, so it’s important for us to get engaged, and we are in a lot of these countries. We certainly [are] with NATO as much possible, weighing in where we can. And, I know other industries are as well, to explain what we’ve learned from our experience in deploying these systems, what we’ve learned in training forces, and what we’ve experienced in operations around the world. We can bring that in to the European theater.

Patriot is a good example. It’s been used in the last two and a half years in more than 100 tactical ballistic missile intercepts; so we’re able to say, “Okay, let’s take that experience and understand what came from that, and contribute to the discussion here in Europe as to what these nations might be facing.”

Even the U.S. sometimes is challenged by interoperability of systems for some of these joint efforts. How far along are we? It’s about missile defense, but it’s also about electronic warfare and other areas of technology that are always evolving.

There is definitely a concerted effort to do more exercises to ensure that that communication is happening, whether it’s on missile defense, whether it’s on ground forces movement, whether it’s on electronic warfare, cyber or others. There’s an absolute need among the U.S. commanders within the European theater to understand what nations are using and what they’re going to acquire, so that they can then establish how those systems can interoperate.

We do understand how [systems] interoperate, what is needed in terms of interfaces or other technology that brings these things together, the talks that the commanders have – [creating] one single integrated picture of what’s going on in any theater.

We talked about Patriot, but also right now, U.S. is helping lead a study with Dutch, the Germans and the Danes on how those nations can contribute to maritime missile defense. If ships acquired and developed the capability [for] missile defense, it could then become interoperable with the [phased adaptive approach] to missile defense that’s already now rolling out. That’s another great area where they’re actually studying this together to understand what it would take to do that within the next five, ten years.

How is Europe progressing in cybersecurity requirements?

The most basic layer is securing the systems themselves. Weapons systems have to be hardened to any cyberattack so that they can’t be taken over inadvertently or even intentionally by an adversary, all the way up to protecting the networks themselves. NATO is definitely taking the lead and making sure that nations are doing that.

All of these countries are trying to build up their own industrial base and their own defense capabilities. What do you see in terms of requirements for you as a major industry player to ensure that you’re contributing to these countries’ own defense capabilities domestically?

The advantage that we have is that we’ve been working in Europe for about a century. And, we’ve partnered with industry here that entire time, and understand very well how to operate. About two-thirds of our international partners are based in Europe. We have over 500 suppliers here. We have major joint ventures. We have big projects within nations that aren’t just used to sell to that country, but to other countries as well.

So, it’s definitely important on the technology side, but it’s also really, really important for national politics. I know a lot of nations would like to see more work done at the local level, and we can usually bring that into the equation.

Chris Lombardi is vice president for international at Raytheon. (Raytheon)
Chris Lombardi is vice president for international at Raytheon. (Raytheon)

Raytheon is the underwriter for the Defense News special multimedia report, European Balance of Power.