US industry has stepped up a campaign to draw on the technologies and skills of foreign industrial partners for missile defence projects - a two-year-old goal of the Bush administration that some fear has languished behind other priorities.

An expanded international co-operation strategy was unveiled last week by top US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and industry officials at the Missile Defence '04 symposium in Florence, Italy.

"Our close working relationships with other governments and industries will help ensure that important new ideas and new technologies for missile defence can be put into action," says MDA director Lt Gen Trey Obering.

Meanwhile, Boeing and Raytheon have announced new partnerships with three foreign companies, including Boeing deals with MBDA and Australia's CEA Technologies, and Raytheon teaming with EADS Space Transportation.

Boeing has agreements with 15 companies outside the USA, including Alenia Spazio, BAE Systems, Canada's CAE, EADS, Turkey's Havelsan, Israel's IAI and Tadiran, Poland's PIT, and Russia's RTI.

But less progress is evident in technology-sharing or real financial rewards from these partnerships. Government-to-government dealings have had more success. Japan, for example, has committed to invest $2.3 billion in US-made missile defence products.

MDA and Northrop Grumman were last week due to unveil the first details of an international co-operation strategy for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor programme. Earlier this year, MDA planned to offer more than $2 billion of the programme to non-US contractors, but the strategy has been attacked by the US Congress, which cut about $25 million from MDA's fiscal year 2005 budget request for international co-operation.

STEPHEN TRIMBLE / WASHINGTON DC

 

Source: Flight International