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Shop Euro For Euro Missile Plan

The CEO of Europe's premier missile company, MBDA, thinks the US should use the MEADS and Aster anti-missile systems and buy European radar and subsystems as part of its missile defense plan for the continent.

"We have in Europe two programs well optimized to fit in with US ballistic missile programs," Antoine Bouvier told the audience of several hundred senior industry and defense officials from around NATO last week.

Bouvier acknowledged burden sharing is a "very sensitive topic" as he spoke -- someone can always claim that the Europeans are whining or that the Americans are bullying or some variant of those complaints -- but he made clear that Europe could provide equipment that could help fill gaps in America's arsenal and add value.

"It will provide a unique opportunity for US and European companies to work together," he said.

MEADS, built by the U.S., Germany and Italy, is a mobile and transportable system to replace the Patriot and Hawk anti-missile systems for NATO. It is approaching critical design review and may be deployed by 2014. It has suffered enormous volatility over the years, coming close several times to being cancelled or abandoned. But the allies appear to have stabilized the program.

Aster is a sea- and land-based surface-to-air anti-missile program designed to take out highly maneuverable targets, including cruise missiles and stealthy targets. It is in production.

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