BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s defense ministry has decided to buy MEADS, the successor to the Patriot missile defense system from the firm MBDA, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday.
The newspaper, which did not identify its sources, said MBDA, along with U.S. firm Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), would make the MEADS system ready for series production.
The report described the project as one of the biggest and most expensive armament projects of the next decade and such a decision would mean Patriot manufacturer Raytheon (RTN.N) would lose out after also being in the race with a modernized version of its system.
The German defense ministry declined to confirm or deny the report.
“The decision will, as we have announced, be made by the end of the second quarter,” a spokesman said. “We continue to be in talks with all manufacturers.”
The United States, Italy and Germany spent several billion dollars developing MEADS over the past decade as a successor to the Patriot system, but Washington decided in 2012 to withdraw, citing budget cuts.
The decision on the system is considered one of the most important armament choices of this legislative period and the order, for which around 4 billion euros are still payable, is the first big independent procurement decision for Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the newspaper said.
Reporting by Michelle Martin and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Grant McCool