The Swedish government has decided to start negotiations on procuring Raytheon’s [RTN] Patriot air and missile defense system for upward of $1.2 billion, the government said Nov. 7.

The Swedish Armed Forces (SwAF) and Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) have been evaluating medium-range surface-to-air defense systems for Sweden since the parliament concluded a 2015 defense framework decision. Now the government is allowing the FMV to start negotiations with U.S. counterparts to procure the Patriot system, the FMV said in a notice.

This decision was based on a defense agreement between the two main governing parties on Aug. 16, the Moderate and Center parties.

The government authorized the FMV to deliver a Letter of Request for a government-to-government Letter of Offer and Acceptance at the American embassy in Stockholm. This is the first step in the initial procurement process before Sweden receives a detailed Foreign Military Sales (FMS) offer for the Patriot system.

The Letter of Offer and Acceptance is expected in spring 2018. The government will then make a final decision on the acquisition of the Patriot system in 2018.

The government aims to have the first Patriot systems being delivered in 2020 and for the system to be operational by 2025 at the latest, within the following defense framework period.

Raytheon beat out its main competitor for an air defense system, the France-Italian joint venture Eurosam’s SAMP/T missile system. Eurosam is owned by MBDA France and Italy and Thales.

FMV official Joakim Lewin said FMV has a tight schedule but they will take the time to make sure technology, performance, time, and cost details are correct.

“This is a major investment in the Swedish defence capability as well as the beginning of a long-term cooperation between Sweden and the USA in the area of surface-to-air defence and our discussions have yet to take place,” Lewin said in a statement.

The Swedish government said in a separate statement that the SwAF had advocated for the Patriot because “it is a proven system with good delivery reliability and anti-ballistic missile capability.”

This acquisition supports the implementation of a Statement of Intent (SOI) signed by Sweden and the U.S. in 2016 and conforms to the parliament’s Defense Policy Bill.

The new Patriot decision aims to replace Sweden’s existing stock of decades-old Raytheon MIM-23 Hawk air defense missiles.

This is the second decision by a European country to procure the Patriot system in 2017, after Romania requested $3.9 billion in the Patriot system and related equipment in July.