The Patriot PAC-3 missile, developed by Lockheed Martin [LMT] is one of the company’s successful missile programs that has attracted international buyers, which in turn reduces costs for U.S. programs, a senior official said.

“Just since 2006, the United States government has benefited to the tune of $482 million in terms of either deferred costs or reduced costs based on quantities just because of our partners involved in the program,” said Dennis Cavin, vice president Army and Missile Defense programs, Corporate Domestic Business Development for Lockheed Martin.

The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates are partners, and the international demand continues to be strong, he said recently at a corporate briefing for reporters in Washington, D.C.

Later in the fourth quarter of this year there will be another PAC-3 missile test examining technical advances in such areas as software, as well as tweaks to doctrine, or how soldiers use the missile.

Lockheed Martin supports Defense Department affordability initiatives, Cavin said. For the company, affordability means taking a refreshed look at processes, relationships and the time it takes to produce equipment.

Reducing costs as a corporation for example, has led to a reduced presence at trade shows such as the venerable Paris Air Show, and its off year counterpart Farnborough in the U.K.

“We’ve reduced out footprint by about a third,” Cavin said. “That’s a savings of $2.5 million.”

Reducing overhead has meant the voluntary separation of some 600 senior employees at the vice president and director level, he said. “That will save us $350 million over the next five years and $105 million each year thereafter.”

However, while looking for ways to reduce costs, Lockheed Martin continues to spend about the same amount year-to-year on its own internal research and development efforts.

“We’ve taken a very conscious look at it and we’re about the same as we’ve been in the past years in our IR&D investment because we know if you start cutting back in that critical area we will not be there when that capability is needed.”

The Army finds the capability gaps, Cavin said, then it is incumbent upon industry to use its funds to support the technology to fill those capability gaps.

“In our missile business we’re always looking at ways to reduce weight and improve the propulsion,” Cavin said. “We are working continually to address those issues.”

Douglas Graham, vice president, Advanced Programs, Strategic & Missile Defense Systems in Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company said, “We continue to make significant investments in IR&D.” For example, by investing a fair amount into the new SM3-Blk IIB missile, which the company is working on in a competitive development for the Missile Defense Agency.

IR&D also is invested in THAAD as it moves toward the future, for example, to make it easier to maintain, Graham said.

“We’re also investing in directed energy looking out to the future,” he said. Directed energy is a technology whose time is coming as electric lasers show promise, particularly in power levels.

“There’s a lot of downward pressure on budgets and on overheads,” but the company continues to invest in IR&D because that’s the future, Graham said.

Nick Bucci, director, Aegis BMD Development Programs, at Lockheed Martin MS2, said looking at the weapons systems, they continually look for new ways to use missiles and the mission areas, and investing in the electronics area.

Company investment is also informed by the threat, Cavin said.