UK MISSILE manufacturer Shorts is about to sign an agreement with Lockheed Martin under which the US manufacturer will promote Shorts' Starstreak air-to-air missile for the US Army's McDonnell Douglas Helicopter (MDH) AH-64 Apache fleet.

Shorts is already representing Lockheed Martin in the UK in the latter's attempt to get the Hellfire missile adopted on the UK's projected army attack-helicopter. Both companies are part of the industrial programme (IP) associated with Westland's bid to sell the Apache to the UK.

The US Army does not have an air-to-air missile for its 800-strong Apache fleet, having abandoned an earlier programme to fit the Stinger in this role. Shorts Missile Systems business-development manager Roy Bird says that there is money in this year's US Defense budget for trials of the Starstreak, even though there is not a formal acquisition programme yet. Bird says that a purchase of Starstreak by the USA could eventually be worth $1.5-2 billion to Shorts (Flight International, 29 March-4 April).

Westland says that a purchase of Apaches by the UK could give a return to UK companies over the life of the fleet of at least £4.1 billion, with a potential for another £5.5 billion from exports of Apaches and support for them via MDH in the USA.

Source: Flight International