Northrop’s Sale of Viper Strike to MBDA Redefines International Defense Ownership

NorthropLogoNorthrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) has sold its Huntsville, Ala.-based Viper Strike munitions business to MBDA Inc., a European missile manufacturer owned by defense giants BAE Systems of London, Franco German EADS and Italy’s Finmeccanica.

The deal marks the first time a European company has bought a U.S. missile maker outright, MBDA Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier told Reuters in an interview.

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MBDA is the world’s second-largest missile manufacturer after Massachusetts’ Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN), who’s missile systems business is headquartered in Tuscon, Ariz.

The laser-guided Viper Strike has been coined “death from above” by its users in the U.S. Army, including Special Forces, according to the Reuters report. Reuters wrote it has reportedly been deployed from the Northrop-built Hunter unmanned aircraft in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

MBDA said this is its first acquisition in the U.S. and will allow it to design and build new precision-guided weapons for both manned and unmanned aerial systems.

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