Friday, February 8, 2013

MEADS problems continue with US funding cut

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) has suffered another setback with the decision by the United States Congress to cut $400.9 million of funding for the program. 

The decision was made despite the US government urging Congress to approve the final payment citing backlash from Germany and Italy. Law makers have stated that the United States does not intend to procure the system.

There is a chance funding will still go through if congressional appropriators, who control the actual funding for arms programs, allow it to happen. If not, the US may be penalized with termination fees.

A total of $4 billion has been spent over the last 10 years on the MEADS, which is being developed jointly by:
  • Lockheed Martin from the United States
  • MBDA Deutschland GmbH from Germany, 
  • MBDA Italia from Italy
The US, Germany and Italy provide 58, 25 and 17 percent of funding respectively.

MEADS is intended to replace the MIM-104 Patriot, MIM-14 Nike Hercules and MIM-23 Hawk. It can provide air defense against:
  • tactical ballistic missiles
  • cruise missiles
  • unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
  • aircraft
  • large caliber rockets
MEADS will primarily use the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), although plans exists to supplement it with the IRIS-T SL missile in Germany.

The PAC-3 MSE is an improved version of the hit-to-kill Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile, featuring improved manoeuvrability and extended range of up to 50 percent. The MEADS consortium has scheduled a test in the fourth quarter of 2013 to prove that it can intercept a ballistic missile.

Meanwhile, the Patriot system, which is supposed to be replaced by MEADS, continues to be upgraded and modernized by Raytheon. This is increasingly making the MEADS a redundant system, if it isn't already one, to the US, which won't offer anything more than what it already has. Not to mention that the US has to share control over the MEADS with Germany and Italy.

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