After a “very intense” summit with leaders of NATO member states earlier this week, U.S. President Trump has claimed that he has managed to secure commitments from the European leaders of NATO member countries that will see them increase their military spending.
On Wednesday, Trump allegedly told NATO leaders that if they did not meet their defense spending targets of at least 2 percent of gross domestic product by next January, the United States would consider withdrawing from the alliance, prompting an emergency NATO summit. After the emergency meeting, Trump told reporters,
I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their financial commitments substantially.
Though some European leaders later claimed that an agreement to increase spending among member nations had not been reached, many of those same leaders asserted that their nations “must” spend more on their militaries and funding of NATO operations.
Promises from Europe of increased defense spending at Trump’s behest are already paying off in a big way for top U.S. weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin. In an interview with Defense News, Bob Delgado—director of international business development for integrated air and missile defense at Lockheed–said the company is planning to double its production of Patriot missiles as orders from European nations, particularly NATO members, “explode.”
“There is a lot of interest in [Patriot Missiles], so much so we are doubling our capacity,” Delgado told Defense News, adding that even though Lockheed was currently meeting demand, “it is getting more difficult as more orders come in, and that is why we are foreseeing, along with the U.S. government, a point where we need to increase our capacity.” The increase in demand would translate into the production of up to 500 Patriot missiles per year and would likely require the company to add an additional production line.
Some of that increased demand comes from deals that were made with NATO members Poland and Romania earlier this year, who are new customers for Lockheed’s Patriot air and missile defense systems.Romania plans to buy 168 missiles as part of its recent order, while Poland plans to purchase 208. Sweden, a NATO ally, also intends to buy around 200 such missiles from the U.S.-based weapons company. Each missile costs around $3.4 million.
Delgado also noticed that orders have increased from the U.S. government itself, which decided to increase its order of missiles per year between fiscal years 2018 and 2022 from 95 missiles per year up to 240 missiles per year, at a cost of more than $800 million. Congress has already approved the sharp increase in government missile purchases.
The precipitous increase in Lockheed missile sales comes after the launch of Trump’s “Buy American” weapons-selling initiative to foreign allies, as well as his efforts to rewrite the government’s Conventional Arms Transfer policy and the International Traffic in Arms regulations in order to make it easier to export more military-grade weapons. Lockheed’s good fortune following Trump’s actions at the recent NATO summit again underscores Trump’s role as the U.S.’ top weapons salesman.