One of the largest transatlantic armaments projects may well be on the verge of failure.
To modernize the German missile defense and replace the previous Patriot missiles, the largest European guided missile company MBDA had allied with the largest US armaments company Lockheed Martin.
For years, the companies have been trying to get the order for a new Bundeswehr missile defense system using modern technology.
But there were always delays, revised offers and cost increases from initially four to now supposedly ten billion euros.
Because no significant sums are planned in the budget planning for 2021 or in the medium term for the so-called TLVS (tactical air defense system) project, MBDA is now pulling the rip cord.
Restructuring measures that have not been quantified are announced in Germany.
Obviously the project is being put on hold.
The shareholders behind MBDA are Airbus, BAE Systems (Great Britain) and Leonardo (Italy).
What the restructuring means in concrete terms for one of the most ambitious but also longest-running armaments projects is left open.
Hundreds of millions of euros in tax money have already been invested.
MBDA Germany boss Thomas Gottschild creates a back door.
The restructuring, which also involves downsizing, includes the possibility of continuing the award procedure and maintaining the key qualifications for air defense in Germany, it says.
Gottschild had already warned in mid-October that a further postponement of the project would be equivalent to a termination.
The modernization of German missile defense is an endless story.
Fifteen years ago, the budget committee of the Bundestag decided to participate in the development of the so-called MEADS project, as a Patriot alternative.
At that time the USA, Germany, France and Italy were still involved.
France and the USA gradually withdrew as users.
Lockheed Martin, on the other hand, continued to rely on Meads to steal away rival Raytheon customers for its Patriot system.
There has been a ping-pong game about the mega-order for years.
The alliance MBDA-Lockheed emphasizes again and again its technical lead against new missile and guided missile threats and a 360 degree all-round protection.
The alliance cheered when the selection decision was made in its favor in 2015.
Competitor Raytheon, who works with Rheinmetall, didn't give up and has been waiting for his second chance ever since.
Reference is made to the large Patriot user community worldwide, lower costs and less risk of first-time users.
The alliance MBDA-Lockheed had to improve and rewrite its offer to the Bundeswehr procurement authority twice.
A setback for the previously favored provider MBDA-Lockheed was recently a statement by Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer that she wanted to first examine and evaluate the air defense as a whole.
The CDU politician announced that this was “not just a question of technical skills”, but also had to be taken into account where there were skill gaps.
Experts believe that it is not only a question of destroying missiles approaching high altitudes, but also of defensive weapons for the lower layers of the air through to so-called close-range protection for smaller objects such as swarms of drones.
Here, large anti-missiles worth millions would be too expensive and inexpedient.
In the industry it is an open secret that Raytheon and Rheinmetall are hoping to outdo MBDA-Lockheed with a complete offer.
Raytheon-Rheinmetall could cover a wider range with the modernization of the Patriot missiles against high-flying targets to protection against attacking objects at low altitudes, possibly at the same or lower costs, it is said.
The defense minister is faced with the dilemma that several billion projects have to be financed.
From a new fighter aircraft (FCAS project) to new tanks and corvettes to a new heavy-duty helicopter and the missile defense system.