Javelin Contract Near for French Army
PARIS — A long-awaited contract for Javelin anti-tank missiles is expected to be signed in June or July, which would allow dispatch to the French Army in Afghanistan by the end of the year, U.S. officials said at the Eurosatory exhibition.
The letter of acceptance (LoA) for the 260 U.S.-built missiles and 76 launchers is working its way through the procurement process in Washington and is expected to be signed in June or July, a U.S. official said.
A signing by the French ambassador could take place at the French Embassy at the end of this month or early July, an executive close to the talks said.
That would allow delivery of the gear to France in August or September, in time for training and sending out to French forces in the Afghan theater by Jan. 1. “That is the objective,” the source said.
The purchase is worth about $70 million. The Javelin missile is built by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Although relatively modest, the purchase has taken several years and follows intense efforts by MBDA to sell its Milan ER and Rafael its Spike weapon to the French Army.
The French Army is looking to buy a new medium-range missile in 2015, to replace the present Milan, under the missile moyenne portée (MMP) project.
MBDA displayed its MMP offer at Eurosatory in a bid to show its competences. The European company wants the government to choose MBDA as the domestic supplier rather than buy a Javelin or Spike and modify it for national needs. MBDA is in talks with Rafael and the Javelin joint venture. The Israeli company is understood to be more pressing than the U.S. joint venture, industry executives said at the show.
But official interest in defining the MMP specifications has markedly fallen off recently, perhaps due to impending defense budget cuts, the executives said. That leads industry to think the program will be delayed, giving more time for MBDA to work with partner Sagem on its MMP offer. Sagem would build the electro/optical seeker and firing post for MBDA.
A French procurement delay, however, also could align French acquisition with U.S. production for Javelin 2, which is expected to get underway in 2017.