France to purchase 260 Javelin missiles from U.S. for roughly $70m.

French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said the ministerial investment committee…

French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said the ministerial investment committee has decided to buy a batch of 260 Javelin missiles and 76 launchers from the U.S. government through the Foreign Military Sales program for around $70 million.

The announcement ends a period of intense competition between Rafael of Israel and the U.S. authorities to supply France with a relatively small batch of missiles, but one which is expected to prepare the way for a larger acquisition in the medium term.

The number of missiles to be bought is smaller than the 380 previously identified by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Elrick Irastorza.

“I have decided three things on the Milan,” Morin told a press conference held after a ministerial investment committee. He was referring to the Milan anti-tank weapon built by MBDA.

“There will be a handling of obsolescence of the current system to allow the use of the Milan and the firing posts until 2015,” he said. Secondly, “The purchase through FMS of a batch of Javelin missiles,” he said.

The short term acquisition was intended to supply troops in Afghanistan with a fire and forget capability, he said. Deliveries of the Javelin would be made before the end of the year, he said.

A joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon makes the Javelin.

The decision to buy the Javelin on a sole-source basis contradicts remarks made a week earlier at a press conference by Laurent Collet-Billion, the head of the Direction Générale pour l’Armement (DGA) procurement office.

Asked whether there would be a competition for the short term buy of medium range missiles, Collet-Billion said “Yes, there will be a competition.”

Read the rest of the story at Defense News.

A DGA spokeswoman said Collet-Billion added “perhaps,” but this went largely unheard.

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