EADS's Astrium Space Transport hopes by 2016 to test a ballistic missile interceptor that could form the basis of a European missile defence system.
According to Astrium Space Transport chief executive Alain Charmeau, a "credible and financially realistic path to a French, European or NATO missile defence capability" could be built around the two geostationary Spirale satellites launched in 2009, which would provide early detection of a hostile launch, and long-range tracking radar in development in France, to guide an in-space interceptor.
Astrium's unsolicited proposal for an in-space intercept test, involving the launch of a target followed by detection and launch of a kinetic interceptor, would cost €200 million ($288 million) to €300 million, followed by another €1 billion to install a workable system.
Charmeau said that recent missile testing and satellite launches by potentially hostile countries proved that missiles with a range of 2,160nm (4,000km) pose a "credible" threat to Europe.
He added that a successful test intercept would involve a collision in orbit and leave a debris field, but this would not pose a risk to satellites, as at "just above" 100km (62 miles) debris would sit below normal orbits and quickly fall into the atmosphere, where it would burn on re-entry.