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Lockheed Martin Expects New International Missile Defense Sales January 3, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) sees new international interest in several missile defense systems it has developed for the Pentagon, company executives said Wednesday.

Japan, India and Persian Gulf countries are among the leading markets for these systems, according to the company’s 2007 missile defense outlook. European countries and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance also are expected to continue current programs and possibly seek upgrades.

Mike Trotsky, a vice president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said Japan could become the first international customer for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, commonly known as THAAD. Other countries in the region also could be interested, he told reporters on a conference call.

The THAAD system is intended to shoot down attacking ballistic missiles at the end of their flight. The Pentagon is in the final stages of testing its equipment, with deployment scheduled for 2009.

If more countries buy into the system, it could become cheaper to field, Trotsky said. “It’s always a big milestone to find an international partner,” Trotsky said.

Another Lockheed Martin product, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system, also is poised for new international sales, Lockheed Martin said. In the next three to five years, the company expects interest from countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Trotsky said.

In the five- to seven-year timeframe, Lockheed Martin expects more interest in the new Patriot system from countries seeking an upgrade. This includes countries in Europe and the Persian Gulf region, as well as other areas.

“We’re talking to people like India and some of our other Gulf customers,” Trotsky said.

Lockheed Martin also is pursuing a range of new and continuing Pentagon programs. For example, the company has a slate of THAAD and Aegis tests planned for 2007. Aegis is a ship-based system that is in the midst of an upgrade. A test planned for late last year did not work out as expected and has been rescheduled for spring, Lockheed Martin said.

The company sees no change in Pentagon funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS, a multibillion-dollar program that is a collaboration with Japan and Italy. The Pentagon had considered proposing a $250 million cut to the program, but that cut is no longer expected to be part of the 2008 budget plan, Lockheed Martin said.

By Rebecca Christie, Dow Jones Newswires

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