MDBA Inc., the wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of missile maker MBDA, recently said it has purchased Northrop Grumman‘s [NOC[ Viper Strike munitions business, located in Huntsville, Ala.
Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.
The Viper Strike purchase is MBDA Inc.’s first acquisition in the United States and is part of the company’s growth strategy. That strategy is based on a combination of acquisitions, organic growth, and partnerships with other U.S. prime contractors, the company said in a statement.
Viper Strike is a precision guided weapon designed for both manned and unmanned aircraft. The 44-pound, covert glide weapon allows U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Special Forces, and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft to precisely engage targets in urban and complex terrain environments. It combines a GPS Inertial Navigation System and a Semi-Active Laser seeker to provide maximum operational flexibility.
In August, Northrop Grumman received a contract to add Viper Strike to the C-130J arsenal. The program had a budget request of 71 Viper Strikes in fiscal year 2011, 75 in FY’12.
Additionally, Viper Strike is one of two munitions in the Stand Off Precision Guided Munition (SOPGM) for U.S. Special Operations Command, which does not break out numbers for each missile. The total SOPGM FY ’12 request is about 354 munitions for $40.6 million.
The acquisition will help position MBDA as a leading precision munitions firm in the U.S. and gives the company a stronger capability in the growing market to create and produce new weapons for unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
The Viper Strike Business Unit facilities, located in Huntsville on the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, will allow MBDA to design, build, and assemble complete precision-guided weapons in one location, as well as bring in new business to the MBDA Huntsville facilities.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “I am pleased that MBDA will be joining the robust and growing Huntsville defense community. Viper Strike weapons have been a key asset for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and I am proud that they will continue to be produced in Alabama. MBDA’s plan to grow the business going forward represents a strong vote of confidence in the Alabama workforce and is great news for the local economy.”
MBDA CEO Jerry Agee said, “Acquiring the combat proven Viper Strike weapon system and facility allows us to take an important step in our strategy to research, design and produce the world’s finest weapons that meet the current and future needs of U.S. armed forces. The Viper Strike line is a perfect addition to our portfolio and allows us entrée into the fast growing armed (Unmanned Aerial System) UAS business segment.”
MBDA Inc. now owns two design, development, and manufacturing locations: the Huntsville Viper Strike operating unit, and its original Westlake Village, Calif., operating unit.
MBDA’s CEO, Antoine Bouvier stated, “This acquisition is a demonstration of our commitment to continue to grow in the U.S. We are excited by the opportunity this production facility provides us to continue to design, build and deliver first-class missiles to US armed forces. We now have over 60 missile systems fielded, in production, or in development and equip over 90 armed forces around the world. We can leverage the economies of scale of this wide customer base and product line to provide excellent missile systems, like Viper Strike, to the US warfighter.”
The transaction has received all necessary US government regulatory approvals.
In total, MBDA offers a range of 45 missile systems and countermeasures products already in operational service and more than 15 others currently in development.
MBDA is held by BAE Systems, 37.5 percent, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS), 37.5 percent and Finmeccanica, 25 percent.