Beyond Patriot? The Multinational MEADS Air Defense Program
July 14/16: Lockheed Martin has dismissed fears that its joint proposal with MBDA to supply the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) to Germany could slip into difficulty. While negotiations could well run into 2017, an election year, officials said lawmakers could still approve the deal as long as it was done in the first three months of the year, before the German national election cycle kicks off in earnest ahead of the September vote. MBDA is expected to have its final proposal submitted very soon.
The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program aimed to replace Patriot missiles in the United States, the older Hawk system in Germany, and Italy’s even older Nike Hercules missiles. MEADS will be designed to kill enemy aircraft, cruise missiles and UAVs within its reach, while providing next-generation point defense capabilities against ballistic missiles. MBDA’s SAMP/T project would be its main competitor, but MEADS aims to offer improved mobility and wider compatibility with other air defense systems, in order to create a linchpin for its customers’ next-generation air defense arrays.
The German government finally gave their clearance in April 2005, and in June 2005 MEADS International (MI) formally signed a contract worth approximately $3.4 billion to design and develop the tri-national MEADS system. In February 2011, however, events began to signal the likely end of the program. Since then, the US Administration has been battling with Congress where there is little support for a continued American participation.
MEADS: The System
MEADS was intended to match up against foreseeable enemy aircraft over the next 30 years, as well as stealthier and/or supersonic cruise missiles, UAVs, and even ballistic missiles. The system will incorporate its own 3-radar set, along with networked communications for use as either a stand-alone system, or a component of larger air defense clusters that include other missiles.
The core vehicle for the US MEADS program appears to be the USA’s FMTV 6×6 trucks. These 5-ton capacity vehicles will carry the radars, containerized Tactical Operations Center (TOC), launcher, and reload packs. FMTVs can be carried in C-130 aircraft, and MEADS International has already tested some of the prototype systems for fit. Italian and German test vehicles have used their own national truck brands, and the Germans in particular appear to leaning to larger vehicles.
During the MEADS SDD phase, MEADS International was asked finalize designs for equipment and complete their integration into the system. The system’s 6 major equipment items are:
 Netted and distributed Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (BMC4I) Tactical Operations Center (TOC). The 3-workstation TOC shelter is a joint project of EADS, Lockheed Martin, and MBDA. It can be carried by 3 different trucks to meet national preferences, and adapter systems could probably be built to widen the number of compatible wheeled and/or tracked vehicles.
 Two 360-degree, Multifunction Fire Control Radars (MFCRs). The X-band MFCR employs active phased array technology, using transmit/receive modules developed in Germany. It also incorporates advanced identification-friend-or-foe (IFF) sensors with improved capabilities. As a point of comparison, the G-band AN/MPQ-65 radar used in the PATRIOT Config-3 system has a 120 degree field for horizontal coverage, narrowing to 90 degrees for engagement. Raytheon has begun studies toward a rotating 360-degree version, but MEADS has one now.
 Surveillance radar. These “Low Frequency Sensor” UHF radars will have self-diagnostic capability, to ease the extra maintenance load caused by replacing 1 MPQ-53/65 Patriot radar with 3 improved MEADS radars.
 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) certified missile round based on the current PAC-3 missile, augmented by Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) technologies that will give it greater range, and possibly greater performance.
 Light weight launcher, mounted on a truck with a built-in winch to auto-load the missile packs.
 Reloader truck.
Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 MSE is still a hit-to-kill missile, with upgraded batteries, an 11-inch dual-pulse solid fuel rocket motor, a thermally hardened front end, a enlarged fins and better control surfaces to improve maneuverability, upgraded guidance software. The desired end result is a longer range missile that is more agile, and able to counter both tactical ballistic missiles and more conventional threats. It’s also being designed to cost less than existing PAC-3 missiles, and time will tell if it succeeds.
The missile has survived MEADS’ demise, and US Army budget documents indicate that production will begin in FY 2014. It will be added to existing PATRIOT batteries, and current plans call for 1,680 missiles to be produced.
MEADS: Mobility and Employment
As attack drones like Israel’s anti-radar Harpy long-loiter UAV, loitering precision missiles, and improved anti-radar missiles like the Italo-American AGM-88E AARGM come into service, air defense assets will also find themselves needing to use “switch-on/ switch-off” and “shoot and scoot” tactics to survive. This was certainly the pattern used by one successful battery in Serbia which not only survived the NATO air campaign, but used its 1970s-era SA-3 missiles to down an American F-117 stealth fighter. The idea is to have MEADS elements or other air defense systems “plug and fight,” joining in or breaking off from a common-picture air defense network as needed, in order to protect or reposition themselves.
Existing Patriot systems have some mobility to provide this kind of self-protection, but they aren’t really designed to maneuver with attacking US forces. Indeed, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the Patriot system’s heavy HEMTT trucks and other large equipment found themselves hard-pressed to keep up with the US military’s rate of advance.
MEADS would be better than that, but it isn’t really a forward air defense system for mobile units. It was originally envisioned to be transportable by C-130 or equivalent medium transport aircraft, able to roll off the transport and begin operations very shortly thereafter. At present, most elements are designed to be compatible with the USA’s 5-ton capacity FMTV 6×6 trucks; depending on their final weight, FMTV-mounted MEADS components may even be transportable as underslung loads on medium-heavy helicopters like the CH-47 Chinook, CH-53 Super Stallion, and the notional Franco-German Heavy-Lift Helicopter. Even the container-sized Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is being designed to be able to drive on and drive off the C-130, or serve as an underslung load on CH-47/ CH-53 class helicopters.
Cutting set-up time and adding air-transportability should help MEADS improve on the Patriot system’s deployability into theater, and mobility within it. Even so, MEADS will retain mobility limitations of its own, due to the terrain limits inherent in all trucks. German forces will have options like their short-range LeFlaSys armored vehicle system for full front-line mobility, while US forward units on the move may end up relying on equally short range Stinger-based systems like hand-held FIM-92 missiles, Avenger Hummers, LAV-II ADs, or Bradley M6 Linebackers for short-range air defense. Note that a number of Bradley M6 and Hummer Avenger systems have been converted out of the air defense role, weakening US forward-based air defense options.
MEADS is designed to operate behind those forward defense systems, and its broader goal was an open architecture system that can plug into broader defensive systems, working with shorter-range systems like the USA’s SLAMRAAM/CLAWS vehicle-mounted AMRAAMs, Italy’s Spada 2000, etc.; with wider surveillance systems like the JLENS tethered blimps; and with longer range theater-defense systems like the Lockheed/ Raytheon/ Northrop-Grumman THAAD, IAI/Boeing’s Arrow-2, or even Raytheon’s naval SM-3 missiles, connected to a common view of the battlefield via Co-operative Engagement Capability. That open architecture’s first big test, will be much simpler, however: integrating a vertical launch version of the European IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile alongside the longer-range, radar-guided PAC-3 MSE.
MEADS International claims that this emphasis on open architecture, plug-and-fight system capabilities in MEADS’ requirements has led to a MEADS Tactical Operations Center (TOC) that can support other MEADS stations, or even other air defense systems. Normal operations require only 2 of the 3 workstations, leaving an additional seat that lets the MEADS TOC be used as a wider task force level TOC, complete with German, Italian, U.S, and NATO command and control functionality. Germany planned to use this capability to integrate MEADS with ground-launched IRIS-T short range infrared guided missiles.
Lockheed Martin is even touting the MEADS BMC4I TOC as a key component of the US Army’s competition for an IBCS system that would integrate all anti-aircraft defenses in a sector.
MEADS: The Program
In September 2004, the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) awarded MI a Design & Development letter contract valued at approximately $2.0 billion + EUR 1.4 billion (about $3.7 billion total at the time). Because Germany hadn’t signed yet, the initial letter contract involved preliminary funding to proceed on a “limited basis,” under the authority of the American-Italian MEADS Design and Development Memorandum of Understanding. Germany’s acceptance and signature in April 2005 enabled NAMEADSMA to sign the full MEADS D&D risk-reduction contract.
The MEADS venture is being led by Lockheed Martin Corp. and includes MBDA Italia, French-German aerospace firm EADS and Germany’s MBDA-LFK (LenkFlugKorpersysteme). Together, these companies have focused an international engineering team in Orlando to develop systems and technologies for the MEADS program. Development work was allocated in accordance with national funding: USA 58%, Germany 25%, and Italy 17%.
- Lockheed Martin: Orlando, FL; Dallas, TX; Huntsville, AL; and Syracuse, NY.
- MBDA-LFK: BMC4I control suite, launcher, Surveillance Radar; and Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) elements at plants around Munich, Germany.
- MBDA’s Italian operating company MBDA Italia will perform work on the BMC4I, MFCR, and launcher/reloader elements in Rome, Italy.
The original 1990s plan for MEADS was for production by 2007, but the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding resulted in a late start, and envisioned System Design & Development until 2014. The US Army intended to see benefits before that 9-year period was over, revising its MEADS acquisition strategy to combine management, development, and fielding of both the MEADS and PATRIOT systems. Under this spiral development approach, the Patriot/PAC-3 system would evolve toward MEADS through the early introduction of the MEADS Major End Items (MEI).
Key milestones for MEADS included a systems requirements review, followed by subsystem and system-level preliminary design reviews from about February 2007 to August 2007. Subsystem critical design reviews (CDR) were finished in 2009, followed by a system-level CDR that finished in 2010. A series of 9 flight-tests were planned from 2011 – 2013, and deployment was scheduled for 2018.
That won’t happen in the USA. By 2009, the US Army had examined its budgets, and declared that it didn’t want the system. They also added a long string of extra requirements, involving expensive integration with back-end command and control systems. The US Missile Defense Agency might have picked MEADS up instead, but by 2011, MEADS production date with all the new requirements had slipped to 2018 at the earliest, and the Pentagon had reservations about MEADS ability to meet even that. The program’s cost estimate was around $4.2 billion, and revised estimates threatened to push it even higher. In response, the USA moved toward ending the program at the end of the Design and Development MoU. Later in 2011, Germany also announced that it would stop at the end of the MoU, as part of their ongoing budget austerity program.
Lockheed Martin has pinned some hopes on its eventual revival if tests go well, and they have. Germany and Italy are reconsidering a European Follow-On Program (EFOP), and interest from Japan may yet help to save MEADS. Russia has also provided considerable assistance, by reigniting an atmosphere of threat and crisis in Europe, and China has done the same in Asia. Their inadvertent cooperation may yet prove to be as pivotal to MEADS as the USA’s.
If Not MEADS, What?
In MEADS’ absence, the US Army intends to continue relying on its existing PATRIOT batteries, with some system upgrades and the new PAC-3 MSE missile. The MEADS LFS surveillance radar, developed under a separate contract with Lockheed Martin, may be the next PATRIOT addition.
Germany and Italy would have several options, if they wish to continue air defense modernization. MEADS will finish its reconfigured development program, but it will do so with key technologies unfinished.
One option would be to finish MEADS and buy it. Drumming up export interest elsewhere is critical, and they’ve reportedly received some interest in via Poland’s WISLA national air and missile defense program, and from Japan.
Italy would like to field a single MEADS battery around Rome, as the best point defense system they can afford. Or, they could simply delete the requirement for a MEADS battery, and rely on their high-end modern SAMP/T Aster-30 systems, which are BMD-capable against short range missiles.
Germany has several options of its own. One possibility would be to take the same approach as the USA, and upgrade their existing PATRIOT batteries. They’re already in talks to do so, and would like to add some MEADS technologies, just as the USA is doing. If they do, the BMC4I command system and links to IRIS-T SL/SLS missile launchers are likely to join whatever systems the USA integrates with PATRIOT.
If Germany wanted to reach for more range than MEADS, and better ballistic missile defense than PATRIOT, they could buy EuroSAM/MBDA’s SAMP/T systems of their own as a new customer. Adding Germany to create a customer core of France, Germany and Italy would improve export prospects in Europe and abroad, while offering useful industrial spinoffs as the system becomes the core of Europe’s missile defense. SAMP/T’s down side is its high cost, a potentially fatal problem given the Euro-zone’s fiscal woes and Germany’s budget austerity. On the other hand, Iran’s continued development of longer-range missiles and nuclear weapons is likely to continue ratcheting up the pressure for European missile defense. If Europe decides not to rely wholly on America’s “phased adaptive approach” of off-continent THAAD systems and land-based SM-3 missiles, SAMP/T would be the logical choice.
Another option for Germany would be to sacrifice ballistic missile defense capability, and field less expensive replacement systems like the AIM-120 AMRAAM-based NASAMS from Kongsberg and Raytheon, already employed by Dutch, Norwegian, and Spanish forces within NATO. NASAMS already employs the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile used by the Italian and German air forces. It can be supplemented with short-range, radar-independent missiles like the IRIS-T SL which Germany intended to add to MEADS, or NASDAMS can extend its overall range by adding the RIM-162 ESSM that serves on German ships. To date, however, NASMS installations have been fixed sites. Mobility is possible, but some work would be required.
Contracts & Key Events
Beyond 2011, PAC-3 MSE related contracts are covered under DID’s general PATRIOT program coverage, as the missile gears up for production beginning in FY 2014. This article will only cover new MSE contracts in the context of MEADS purchases.
FY 2014 – 2016
Odds improving in Polish competition; Twin-kill test; IFF Mode 5 certification.
July 14/16: Lockheed Martin has dismissed fears that its joint proposal with MBDA to supply the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) to Germany could slip into difficulty. While negotiations could well run into 2017, an election year, officials said lawmakers could still approve the deal as long as it was done in the first three months of the year, before the German national election cycle kicks off in earnest ahead of the September vote. MBDA is expected to have its final proposal submitted very soon.
July 13/16: Negotiations between Germany, Lockheed Martin and MBDA over the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) looks likely to run into next year, dashing earlier hopes by the manufacturers that they would have a final contract proposal submitted by the end of the month. Experts say it may be difficult to win parliamentary approval for the $4.5 billion project if negotiations drag on too long too close to Germany’s national elections in September 2017. The MEADS system won out against Raytheon’s Patriot system to replace the current Patriot system fielded in the 1980s.
March 4/16: Poland and Lockheed Martin are back in discussions over the possible procurement of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). The tender, estimated to be in the region of $5 billion, would form a central pillar of Poland’s large-scale military modernization efforts made all the more urgent by the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s renewed assertiveness in the region. A deal between Lockheed and the government, now five months in power, would represent a shift from the previous government, who were on the cusp of purchasing two Patriot batteries from Raytheon. An agreement on the MEADS deal would represent a massive coup for Lockheed, as they try to gather customers from countries looking to replace their aging Patriot systems.
May 18/15: The German Defense Ministry has reportedly selected the MEADS system as a replacement for its existing Patriots. The Defense Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the reports circulating in German media, with an official decision expected to be announced in June. MEADS – Medium Extended Air Defense System – has been jointly developed by Lockheed Martin and MBDA, with funding received from three partner nations; the US, Germany and Italy. If the system has been selected over competitor Raytheon – who are offering upgrades to the in-service Patriots – then this would be a much-needed boost to the MEADS consortium, which urgently needs a buyer having failed to impress the US Army owing to cost and schedule overruns.
June 30/14: Poland. Poland’s MON announces the Wisla program’s finalists: Raytheon, and EuroSAM. Poland won’t become part of the MEADS program, nor will it buy Israel’s David’s Sling. The 2-stage technical dialogue led Poland to conclude that they required an operational system, and valued prior integration into NATO systems. Accordingly, MEADS and David’s Sling failed to qualify. Sources: Poland MON, “Kolejny etap realizacji programu Wisla zakonczony”.
Loss in Poland
June 16/14: Germany. MBDA Deutschland spokesman Wolfram Lautner says that Germany is considering MEADS adoption, even if it means going it alone on a EUR 2.5 – 3.5 billion program. A decision is expected by the end of 2014:
“The money would be spent on aligning MEADS with German standards and adapting it to fire the Iris-T missile, and it would start to go operational by 2018-19…. There is a requirement, and an RFP could be issued either to MEADS or for an updated version of the Patriot system Germany operates…. After that, there will be a negotiated contract and parliament will decide since the cost will exceed [the legal threshold of EUR] 25 million.”
Sources: Defense News, “Germany Could Spend €3 Billion To Get MEADS Going”.
May 21/14: IFF certification. MEADS gets full Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) certification from the United States Department of Defense International AIMS (Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System, Identification Friend or Foe, Mark XII/Mark XIIA, Systems) Program Office. The certified IFF system is used in both MEADS radar types: the UHF Surveillance Radar, and the X-band Multifunction Fire Control Radar.
Mode 5 is NATO’s most secure IFF mode, and certification is a big deal to European NATO countries who might wish to go forward with MEADS. Sources: MBDA, “MEADS System Gains Full Certification For Identifying Friend Or Foe Aircraft”.
IFF Mode 5 cert.
May 14/14: Poland. The USA has reportedly used export clearance to block Israel’s David’s Sling system from WISLA consideration, and France’s continued willingness to sell Russia amphibious assault helicopter carriers is hurting them. Which leaves a strong likelihood that WISLA will be American-made.
At the same time, Lockheed Martin’s Marty Coyne told Reuters that the US government had “supported the MEADS bid by giving Lockheed permission to offer producing its baseline PAC-3 missiles in Poland, and to help Polish industry set up production of its own long-range missile.” If the winner is MEADS, that would mean either a PAC-3 downgrade within the more advanced MEADS system, or full local production of the PAC-3 MSE, which is the USA most advanced air defense missile. Read “Alone, If Necessary: The Shield of Poland” for full coverage.
Nov 6/13: Twin-kill. MEADS testing provides an impressive swan song, as the system destroys a circling QF-4 Phantom drone to the south, while simultaneously nailing a Lance tactical ballistic missile coming in from the north at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test used 3 PAC-3 MSE missiles, as planned, using semi-automatic mode to direct 2 missiles at the Lance and 1 at the QF-4.
The deployed system included all MEADS elements: The two 360-degree radars for Surveillance (UHF-band) and Multifunction Fire Control (X-Band), the Battle Manager, and a pair of launchers in the Italian and German configurations. Now it’s up to the USA to decide if it wants to add key MEADS technologies like the UHF VSR to PATRIOT, while Italy, Germany, and other potential buyers need to decide whether they want to buy the entire system. Sources: Lockheed Martin, Nov 6/13 release.
All tests finished
October 21/13: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces another successful test at White Sands, NM using the MFCR radar. Whereas the 1st test in April consisted of the (easy) tracking of a small aircraft, this time the result is more significant as the target was a 20 ft Lance tactical ballistic missile (TBM). Next month there is a final, more momentous test scheduled to wrap up 2013, which will combine the interception of a TBM with an air-breathing target. Source: Lockheed Martin, “MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar Tracks Tactical Ballistic Missile for First Time.”
Germany and Italy pursue EFOP follow-on, may have partners; MEADS cruise missile test is a kill; PAC-3 MSE missile aces high-low intercept test, MEADS wants its last test to be harder.
June 19/13: Testing. During NATO’s Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW) exercises in May-June 2013, a MEADS tactical battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BMC4I) tested its ability to operate with other NATO systems. That’s important, because Germany, Italy, and others would need to use MEADS with NATO’s overarching command and control systems, in order to be most effective against ballistic missiles.
It was something of a lab test, and also somewhat limited. MEADS demonstrated the ability to transmit, receive and process Link 16 messages, as well as “other elements of threat engagement and target intercept.” It needs Link 16 and full threat engagement and target intercept data sharing. Lockheed Martin.
June 18/13: Testing & Future Plans. After the successful high-low test of PAC-3 MSE missiles mounted on a PATRIOT system (q.v. June 7/13), MEADS wants to use the same kind of challenging test for its last scheduled full-system test, with the 2 targets arriving almost simultaneously and 120 degrees apart, and 2 launchers participating together. That’s outside the PATRIOT’s capabilities, but proving MEADS this way means that the added cruise missile drone and accompanying test changes need to be funded. Which means they have to ask the USA, Germany, and Italy.
The Europeans may be interested in paying, even if the USA isn’t really sure what it wants to do with MEADS. That kind of demonstration would help their European Follow-on Program (EFOP) get traction with partners like Poland, and talks to lay out an EFOP plan are expected this fall. As things stand, it looks like the Europeans will get the BMC4I control centers to form the core of any further testing and development, a fire-control radar each, and 2 launchers. The United States really wants the surveillance radar. Aviation Week | Military.com.
June 16/13: Germany. Raytheon’s VP of Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Sanjay Kapoor, tells Bloomberg that Germany is discussing an upgrade of its own PATRIOT systems, and wants to incorporate elements of MEADS after spending all that R&D money. Bloomberg.
June 7/13: MSE Splash 2. The improved PAC-3 MSE aces a big test at White Sands Missile Range, NM, killing both a tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target and a cruise missile. The missile is fired as part of a PATRIOT system, as opposed to its more advanced MEADS counterparts.
The TBM was assigned 2 ripple-fired missiles, but the 1st hit so #2 self-destructed. Missile #3 took out the BQM-74 jet-powered target drone. Preliminary data indicates that all test objectives were achieved. Lockheed Martin | Raytheon.
May 15/13: Export interest. Aviation week quotes Italian National Armaments Director Lt. Gen. Claudio Debertolis, and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control EVP Rick Edwards, to confirm that 2 new nations are interested in MEADS. One of them is Poland, and the other is said to be Japan.
Poland is in the process of building a national air and missile defense system, and MEADS offers them a very strong air defense system with a BMD point defense option. Beyond its performance premium over PATRIOT, MEADS can also offer workshare benefits from early involvement.
Lt. Gen. Claudio Debertolis adds that Italy would like to deploy a single MEADS battery around Rome, as the most capable BMD solution that Italy can afford, given its poor fiscal situation. When one counts MBDA’s Aster-30 missiles deployed by Italian Horizon Class ships and SAMP/T army units, Rome could have a 2 layer BMD system. Aviation Week.
April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. MEADS gets no FY 2014 funding, as expected. The $400.9 million budgeted in FY 2013 is designed to finish development, and meet all contractual obligations.
PAC-3 MSE missile production would begin with a budget of $540.5 million, covering 56 missiles plus long-lead time items for FY 2015’s 72 missiles. DID budget coverage.
April 9/13: Testing. MEADS tests continue under the development program, and Lockheed Martin continues to highlight progress in hopes of drumming up interest. During a recent test that tracked a small test aircraft near Syracuse, NY, MEADS’ UHF Low-Frequency Sensor radar succeeded in cueing its companion MFCR X-band fire-control radar, via the MEADS Battle Manager.
It’s a very basic test. Upcoming tests in a NATO exercise, and firing test #2 at White Sands missile range, will be much more significant. Lockheed Martin.
March 28/13: The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2013. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. With respect to the “Patriot/Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) Combined Aggregate Program (CAP) Fire Unit,” the report pegs funding from all parties through FY 2013 at $3.3255 billion, including $781.9 million from the Pentagon during FY 2012 and 2013.
Development of the system support vehicle, MEADS network radio, and reloader has been cut, focusing efforts on the 360-degree MFCR fire control radar; near-vertical launcher; and battle management system. Program officials cite all 3 as having met or exceeded predicted performance. So, which technologies are likely to find their way into other programs, other than the PAC-3 MSE missile? The volume search radar is cited as the leading candidate, followed by the near-vertical launcher, and the cooling technology used for its rotating phased array radars.
The system’s final test in late 2013 will involve a ballistic missile, against a MEADS system that accompanies the MFCR with a low-cost (just 50% of T/R arrays) version of the surveillance/ volume search radar design.
March 26/13: Politics. MEADS survives another Senate vote, with $381 million included in the Continuing Resolution to finish development. It’s the usual argument: the contention that cancellation would cost as much as finishing funding, while eliminating all of the associated jobs early and preventing the Army from picking up some MEADS technologies for future use.
The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste adds an interesting wrinkle, leaking a confidential Pentagon report that says it might not have to pay termination costs. It cites the 2005 MoU clause that makes MEADS activities subject to “the availability of funds appropriated for such purposes.” If Congress cuts off funding, does that mean the Army can exit the program with no penalty? Sen. Kelly Ayotte [R-NH] led the charge to reapportion MEADS funding to pay for operations and maintenance. Sens. Chuck Schumer [D-NY-LMCO], Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski [D-MD], and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] worked to keep Ayotte’s amendments from ever coming to the floor, believing that if they did, they’d probably pass.
In response, Sen. Ayotte has placed a hold on Alan Estevez’s nomination to be the next Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. She contends that MEADS was funded even though the NDAA prohibits such MEADS funding, via a provision that prevents the Pentagon from funding systems that won’t ever reach the battlefield. Sen. Ayotte in New Hampshire Sentinel Source | CNB News | Defense News Intercepts.
Jan 29/13: Italy & Germany letter. The German and Italian defense ministries send a formal letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, pressing the USA to continue MEADS funding through development. Excerpts:
“The results of the Design and Development (D&D) phase of the MEADS program remain vital for both Germany and Italy as they will be the basis for our future Air and Missile Defense System Architecture…. If the US does not fulfill its funding commitment for 2013, Germany and Italy would need to interpret this as a unilateral withdrawal. Under the terms of the MoU, Germany and Italy expect formal notification of the US intent to withdraw…. In a first estimate the current US position results in an economic damage to Germany and Italy of more than 400 Mio. US$…. In addition, there are wider implication of the US withdrawing or breaking the MoU and this would set a bad precedent for future transatlantic cooperation in principle.”
See: MEADS AMD [PDF].
Nov 29/12: Intercept. A partial MEADS configuration with a networked MEADS battle manager, a lightweight launcher firing the PAC-3 MSE, and a 360-degree MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) intercept and kill an MQM-107 target drone simulating a cruise missile.
Cruise missile intercept
Aug 21/12: US Army Brig. Gen. Ole Knudson, Program Executive Officer Missiles and Space, said during a conference that the surveillance radar is the piece of MEADS most worth salvaging. The Army has already turned the PAC-3 MSE missile into its own program, so perhaps he means “the next piece of MEADS most worth salvaging.” AviationWeek.
July 2012: Difficult funding. So far this fiscal year, reviving support in the US Congress for the program has been rocky. The Administration asked for $400M in its February budget request. In response, the House voted a bill that would prohibit obligating or expending funds for MEADS. Later the Senate Armed Services Committee concurred. In its statement of policy [PDF] issued in June in response to the House NDAA FY13 bill, the OMB wrote that it:
“strongly objects to the Committee’s decision to omit funding for MEADS. If the Congress does not appropriate the funding in the FY 2013 Budget request, there is a high likelihood that this action would be perceived by our partners, Italy and Germany, as breaking our commitment under the Memorandum of Understanding. This could harm our relationship with our Allies on a much broader basis, including future multinational cooperative projects. It also could prevent the completion of the agreed Proof of Concept activities, which would provide data archiving, analysis of testing, and software development necessary to harvest technology from U.S. and partner investments in MEADS.
SecDef Panetta wrote to SAC Chairman Inouye to ask for his support. That seemed to help as the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee maintained $380M for MEADS funding in its markup. However, given far from universal support in the Senate and opposition in the House, this will be hard to push through the eventual bill, whenever that happens given the likelihood of a Continuing Resolution in the fall. Scenarios to terminate MEADS were already floated in a CBO report on deficit reduction [PDF] and by the Pentagon (see Feb 14/11 entry) in early 2011.
July 9/12: MSS-M. Lockheed Martin deploys an 18-wheeler rig with its MEADS System Stimulator – Mobile (MSS-M) to White Sands Missile Range, NM. Its’s a way of reducing costs, and lowering risks, both of which are critical to a program whose funding is running down, with no buyer in sight.
Without MSS-M, they’d be limited to hardware-in-the-loop simulations in a laboratory environment. With it, they can do the same work in the field, running simulations and checking performance by the same live systems that will be used in firing tests. They will be very busy as the first MEADS target intercept test, scheduled for later in 2012, approaches. Lockheed Martin.
June 12/12: Testing. The 1st MEADS power and communications unit hass finished acceptance testing in Germany. The truck-mounted power and communications unit provides power for the MEADS fire control and surveillance radars. It includes a diesel-powered generation unit. A separate commercial power interface unit permits radar operation using commercial power (50 Hertz/60 Hertz). Lockheed Martin.
April 19/12: Testing. The 1st MEADS X-band Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) has begun system-level testing with a MEADS battle manager and launcher at Pratica di Mare AFB near Rome, Italy. Lockheed Martin.
Feb 22/12: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that they’ve begun integration testing on the 3rd completed MEADS battle manager at its facility in Huntsville, AL. This one will be used as part of the ballistic missile intercept test planned for 2013 at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The other 2 are already supporting system testing at Pratica di Mare AFB, Italy and Orlando, FL.
Nov 17/11: The 1st full MEADS firing test successfully engages an “over the shoulder” target approaching from behind at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test used the PAC-3 MSE missile, lightweight launcher and BMC4I battle manager, and the nature of the test required a unique sideways maneuver from the missile. Since the threat was not an actual target drone, the missile’s self destruct was triggered at the end. Lockheed Martin.
1st full firing test
Nov 10/11: Testing. In a simulated test at at Pratica di Mare, Italy, the MEADS BMC4I battle manager demonstrates the “plug and fight” concept, including attaching and detaching the launcher from the MEADS plug-and-fight network; configuring and initializing the MEADS launcher and simulated sensors; performing track management functions, threat assessment and identification; and transmitting a valid launch command to the launcher.
NAMEADSMA General Manager Gregory Kee adds that “Because of its advanced capabilities, there is international interest in MEADS.” Technicaly, that’s already true, due to its program structure. The question is whether there’s interest from an outside country with the funds to integrate MEADS into an existing air defense command-and-control framework, conduct further tests, and begin manufacturing. MEADS’ current publicity campaign is partly designed to help it find that buyer – if that buyer exists. Lockheed Martin.
Nov 3/11: The National Armaments Directors of Germany, Italy and the United States approve a amendment that lays out the rest of the MEADS System Development & Demonstration contract, which ends in 2014. Lockheed Martin will say only that MEADS “remains within the funding limit authorized… in the 2004 MEADS [MoU].” Testing will include engagement using remote tracks, plug-and-fight capabilities for MEADS components, the system’s netted/distributed operation, and interoperability through Link 16. In addition:
Fall 2011 will see a launcher missile characterization test, demonstrating MEADS’ 360 degree capability with an over-the-shoulder launch of a PAC-3 MSE missile, against a target approaching from behind.
Late 2012 will see an intercept flight test against an air-breathing (as opposed to rocket powered) threat.
Late 2013 will see a sensor test, followed by the grand finale: a tactical ballistic missile intercept test. Lockheed Martin.
Revised MEADS program
Nov 1/11: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $16.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to cover PAC-3 MSE follow-on flight tests.
Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX; Chelmsford, MA; Camden, AR; Huntsville, AL; Pinellas, FL; Vergennes, VT; Hollister, CA; Torrance, CA; and Wichita, KS; with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W31P4Q-07-G-0001).
Oct 24/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that a MEADS launcher has arrived at White Sands Missile Range, NM, after system integration testing, to begin live fire testing. While PAC-3 MSE missiles have been fired before, it was done from existing launcher systems.
Integration and checkout tests are continuing in preparation for a November flight test, where the MEADS system will demonstrate an unprecedented over-the-shoulder launch of a PAC-3 MSE missile, against a simulated target that attacks from behind.
Oct 21/11: Deutschland raus. Germany changes its mind about termination, as it continues to cut its already weak defense sector. Under the new plan, Germany will also pull out of MEADS, and will cut its Patriot systems in half from 29 to 14.
This move virtually ensures the end of MEADS. If Italy also decides to pull the plug, as now seems likely, there will be no termination costs to fellow partners for shuttering the program. Depending on how they choose to go about closing things down, however, there may be termination costs to the contractors. Aviation Week.
Oct 17/11: MICS. Lockheed Martin announces the early delivery of MEADS’ intra-fire unit communications kits for the MEADS Internal Communications Subsystem (MICS).
MICS provides secure communications between the MEADS sensors, launchers and battle managers across a high-speed internet protocol network. That network can have MEADS elements removed and added with no delay, and can be expanded to include other elements using a “plug-and-fight” architecture.
Oct 12/11: Battle Manager. MEADS International announces that they’ve begun integration testing on the first completed MEADS battle manager system (BMC4I TOC), which provides overall control and configuration of MEADS intended “plug and fight” system. The Battle Manager, mounted on back of an FMTV truck, completed acceptance testing in May 2011 at MBDA in Fusaro, Italy, and arrived at the MEADS Verification Facility in Orlando, FL in July 2011.
The Florida facility is putting the new system through its paces using the MEADS system stimulator, in preparation for a system live-fire in November at White Sands Missile Range, NM. In these simulated scenarios, the MEADS battle manager will configure the other major end items and receive Surveillance Radar tracks for simulated threats, cue the Multifunction Fire Control Radar, send launch commands, and complete interceptor launches and target intercepts.
Sept 13/11: Lockheed Martin announces that MEADS’ Integrated Launcher Electronics System (ILES) has successfully executed a simulated missile launch, as they prepare for MEADS first major live-fire test in November at White Sands Missile Range, NM.
Aug 16/11: Battle manager. MEADS’ Battle Management Command, Control, Communications and Computers and Intelligence (BMC4I) “battle manager” successfully completes its software design review in Huntsville, AL. Lockheed Martin.
July 21/11: Unhappy partners. Italy and Germany are rattling cages in the USA, in response to FY 2012 budget committee votes. Germany is saying that they won’t agree to joint termination, while Italy’s undersecretary for defense, Guido Crosetto, sends a letter to the Pentagon saying:
“I expect that the U.S. DOD will put in place all the necessary actions to ensure that U.S. Congress will provide the required funds to complete the Meads development and meet our mutually agreed commitments within the limits… [otherwise] the U.S. shall then be required to bear all the resulting contract modifications and cancellation costs up to the total financial contribution established.”
Given the likely size of those contract penalties, that really does sound like an offer the USA can’t refuse. Bloomberg.
July 5/11: At least we’re secure. MEADS International wins its 3rd James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award. It’s presented by the U.S. Defense Security Service (DSS), who has responsibility for more than 13,000 cleared contractor facilities, during the National Classification Management Society’s Annual Seminar in New Orleans, LA.
Less than 1% are considered for Cogswell recognition, but MEADS International also won in 2000, and in 2007. Their 2011 Cogswell Award includes recognition for 7 consecutive years of Superior security ratings. Lockheed Martin.
June 21/11: Revised objectives. The National Armaments Directors of Germany, Italy and the United States have approved a revised set of MEADS development objectives, including 2 intercept flight tests by 2014. To support final system integration and flight test activities, MI has taken ownership of facilities at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Lockheed Martin.
June 15/11: Zero-out? Bloomberg reports that some members of the US Senate Armed Services committee are looking to zero-out MEADS funding in the FY 2012 budget. That happens the day after the US House Appropriations Committee approves a 2012 defense-spending draft that cuts $149.5 million from MEADS’ FY 2012 budget, and the SASC would go on to remove the MEADS’ request entirely.
The Pentagon has proposed funding MEADS development, due in part to MEADS’ termination costs. It remains to be seen whether that becomes a factor in debate.
May 4/11: PAC-3 MSE. Raytheon’s Patriot system successfully test fires Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 MSE at White Sands Missile Range, NM. This is another step forward for MEADS development program. It also shows that the missile can be incorporated into existing Patriot systems, as an upgrade that stops short of full MEADS capabilities. Raytheon.
March 2011: Testing. The 2nd MEADS Launcher Platform Group (LPG) completes formal acceptance testing in Dello, Italy, after demonstrating capabilities including automatic upload/offload, switch from emplacement to mobile configuration, and detachment of components from the MAN truck carrier to allow helicopter transport.
Following integration with an Integrated Launcher Electronics System, Launcher Power System and Internal Communication System (MICS), the completed launcher will begin system-level integration with other MEADS elements, then begin flight tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM later in 2011. Lockheed Martin.
March 21/11: DOD Buzz reports from AIAA’s annual missile defense conference that MEADS may have bought itself the time it needs to survive, as the participants work to complete development instead of paying termination fees:
“Lockheed Martin believes there is a good chance the US will recommit to the tri-nation MEADS missile defense program, driven by its smaller manpower requirements, ease of transport and higher [8x – 10x higher] reliability. And Germany and Italian officials told a senior Lockheed official that they remain committed to MEADS and other countries may well join the program sometime in the next two years. Mike Trotsky, Lockheed’s vice president air and missile defense systems, told reporters during that adding more countries could substantially lower the price of American participation…”
April 15/11: The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes the “Patriot/Medium Extended Air Defense System Combined Aggregate Program (MEADS CAP) Fire Unit – Program”:
“…costs decreased $18,661.8 million (-85.0 percent) from $21,965.3 million to $3,303.5 million, due primarily to the Department’s decision to remove the production funding for the fire unit from the program and modify the design and development phase to continue as a proof of concept effort ending in fiscal 2014.”
SAR – termination
March 21/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that a MEADS launcher and accompanying BMC4I Tactical Operations Center (TOC) have entered system test and integration at Pratica di Mare Air Force Base in Italy. Later additions of the Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) and a MEADS System Stimulator will enable demonstration of the full MEADS system in simulated engagements of live target aircraft. After pre-integration at Pratica di Mare, the MEADS system will complete integration at White Sands Missile Range, NM, and begin flight testing in 2012.
March 3/11: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $7 million incremental-funding, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to eliminate obsolete materials in the PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE solid rocket motor, in support of the United States and Taiwan.
Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX, with an estimated completion date of June 30/14. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W31P4Q-07-G-0001).
March 2/11: BMD firing test. Lockheed Martin announces that a PAC-3 MSE missile successfully intercepted a “threat representative” tactical ballistic missile target at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Richard McDaniel, director of PAC-3 Missile Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control:
“We continue to test the PAC-3 MSE Missile at higher altitudes and against more challenging targets, and it continues to meet expectations…”
Feb 16/11: Germany wobbles. Media reports confirm that Germany will not pursue MEADS beyond the development phase. A Feb 15/11 letter from the Germany defense ministry to its parliamentary budget committee was leaked to Reuters, and it reportedly states that:
“With the closing of the planned development of MEADS … between the United States, Germany and Italy,… a realisation or acquisition of MEADS will not be carried out in the foreseeable future…”
That doesn’t mean an immediate pullout. Announcements of the kind the Pentagon just made only happen after long and close consultation with partners, and agreement behind the scenes on what to do. All 3 countries will almost certainly be financing MEADS development instead of paying termination costs, before going their separate ways. Reuters.
Feb 16/11: Pentagon program suicide? DoD Buzz has a take on MEADS from Frank Cevasco. While a senior Pentagon official at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cevasco and co. pushed a future extended air defense program, which eventually became MEADS. His thoughts on what followed:
“I was told that doesn’t make sense [to want to replace Patriot units 1:1] as a MEADS fire unit has substantially greater geographic coverage than Patriot [but the Army did]. I agree there would be additional costs associated with integrating MEADS with a separate Army command and control system, a requirement that was levied on the program unilaterally by Army about two years ago. Moreover, a portion of the cost overruns and schedule slippages can be attributed to the Army and DoD technology disclosure community who refused to allow the MEADS industry team to share key technology. The matter was resolved but only after intervention by senior OSD officials and the passage of considerable time; and, time is money with major weapons system development programs… Army has done its best from the every beginning to sabotage the program, preferring to develop a US-only solution funded by the US (with funds provided by the good fairy).”
Feb 15/11: Germany. German lawmakers are pushing to follow the US lead and drop MEADS, but so far, Germany seems to be taking the same position as the US. Which isn’t really surprising, since the American decision would have been discussed extensively before it was made public. Opposition is coming from the Free Democrats and Greens, both minor players. The cost of continuing existing MoU commitments is about EUR 250 million for Germany, while the cost of cancellation is currently unknown. Bloomberg reports that:
“Germany will continue its commitments for the development phase of the project, according to a Defense Ministry official who declined to be identified in line with government rules. The official wouldn’t comment when asked about the government’s intentions beyond the development phase.”
Feb 14/11: Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale tells a budget briefing that the USA will fund MEADS up to its $4 billion cap and into FY 2013. After that?
“Yes, our proposal would be that we would invest no more U.S. funds in MEADS after 2013, fiscal year ’13. We will – we will let the program run out under its current plan so we don’t incur any termination liability. But we wouldn’t spend money beyond there. And we would try to harvest some of the technology, and we may use that in other programs, and our partners may go forward with some MEADS. But it is not our plan to do so.”
At present, the USA is committed to spending another $804 million under the current MEADS MoU. With MEADS behind on cost and schedule targets, a recent restructuring proposal would have reportedly added another 30+ months (to the existing 110 month development period) and another $974 million – $1.16 billion of American funding to the program. The Pentagon estimates that another $800 million would be needed to certify MEADS and integrate it into existing US air defense systems. In addition, MEADS lateness meant that the USA would have to spending more money than they had planned on new Patriot missiles and system modernization. That burden, on top of existing MEADS overruns and fielding costs, is what pushed the Pentagon to the breaking point with MEADS. Hence the current proposal, which will spend the committed $804 million or so on MEADS development instead of termination costs, produce prototypes and limited integration, and look to incorporate anything promising into existing systems.
The odds that Italy or Germany would pick up the system are poor, given Germany’s ongoing disarmament and austerity program, and Italy’s slow-motion budget crisis. The FY 2013 date is significant for the USA, however, as it leaves the next Presidential administration the option of deciding to keep MEADS going. Hale briefing transcript | Pentagon’s MEADs Fact Sheet [PDF] | Bloomberg | DoD Buzz | Gannett’s Army Times | Reuters.
US backing out
Feb 14/11: US Budget. The Pentagon unveils the official FY 2012 budget request, which amounts to $570.5 million for MEADS components.
$406.6 million would be dedicated to MEADS development, down from $467.1 million requested in FY 2011, and $571.0 appropriated in FY 2010.
The FY 2012 request also includes $163.9 million in PAC-3 MSE missile work ($89M RDT&E, $75M procurement), up from FY 2011’s request for $62.5 million.
Jan 31/11: Radar. Lockheed Martin announces that the MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) subteam at LFK in Germany completed integration of the antenna array in 2010, clearing the way for assembly-level testing of the Transceiver Group. Coolant pressure testing was completed, and cooling distribution was demonstrated at the slip ring and antenna rotary joint. Final rotation tests at both 15 and 30 rpm were successfully completed.
The X-band MEADS MFCR has not yet begun full system tests at Pratica di Mare air force base in Italy. The program is now completing final build, integration and test activities, hopefully leading to flight tests involving all system elements at White Sands Missile Range in 2012. If, that is, the program survives.
Jan 4/11: Passed but frozen. The FY 2011 US defense “budget” is passed in a very odd way, but it has a provision in it that’s specific to MEADS. About 75%, or $350.2 million of the approved $467 million annual funding, is frozen until a firm decision is made to either continue or cancel the program. There were also requirements in the Senate’s S.3454 bill, Sec. 233 around decisions by Germany and Italy regarding funding and production, and a variety of certifications and cost estimates. But the final bill passed was H.R. 5136.
Through June 30/10, the USA has approved spending about $2 billion on the program. So far, MEADS program estimates have grown in cost by about $900 million (to $4.2 billion), and its overall schedule has been delayed by 18 months. Bloomberg.
Dec 13/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $9.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to design obsolete materials out of the PAC-3 and MSE solid rocket motor. These sorts of moves can improve performance, but their most important function is to ensure ongoing availability of spares and new-build components.
Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX, with an estimated completion date of Nov 30/13. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Contracting Center in Huntsville, AL (W31P4Q-07-G-0001).
Nov 9/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas, TX receives a $7.3 million cost-plus-incentive fee contract for PAC-3 MSE contract overrun funding.
Work is to be performed in Dallas, TX (95.74%); Camden, AR (0.25%); and Ocala, FL (4.01%), with an estimated completion date of Feb 29/12. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the U.S. Army’s AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164).
Oct 25/10: MICS. Lockheed Martin announces delivery of the first 2 MEADS Message Routing Subsystem units, as essential elements of the MEADS Internal Communications Subsystem (MICS) hardware, which will provide IP-based secure tactical communications between the launcher, surveillance radar and multifunction fire control radar across a high-speed network.
The Message Routing Subsystem supports the networked exchange of command, control and status data between the major components and the Tactical Operations Center.
Sept 30/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas, TX receives an $11.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Patriot PAC-3 MSE missile program.
Work is to be performed in Dallas, TX (95.74%), Camden, AZ (0.25%), and Ocala, FL (4.01%), with an estimated completion date of Feb 29/12. One bid was solicited with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command’s AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164).
Sept 22/10: O&S costs. Lockheed Martin touts the MEADS program’s estimate of its required life cycle costs, which has been submitted to the governments of the USA, Germany, and Italy as cash-strapped European governments and the US Missile Defense Agency decide whether to use their funds to put MEADS into production. The assumptions and data used in that estimate aren’t discussed in any depth, but they contend that:
“MEADS will especially reduce operation and support (O&S) costs. Ordinarily, over two-thirds of the total cost of ownership is spent in this area, but MEADS O&S costs are about half [DID: which would be a 37% reduction – unless the absolute total is 37% or more higher than previous systems]. Savings result from features of the MEADS design that include high reliability, automated fault detection, prognostics, two-level maintenance and a reduction in the number of system elements. Additionally, MEADS was shown to defend up to eight times the coverage area with far fewer system assets… [DID: vs. Hawk? Nike Hercules? Patriot? Doesn’t say.]
NAMEADSMA General Manager Gregory Kee said, “The combination of advanced 360-degree sensors, near-vertical launch capability and the improved PAC-3 MSE Missile gives MEADS a far greater defended area. MEADS active phased array, digital beamforming radars make full use of the extended range of the PAC-3 MSE Missile.”
Sept 21/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin in Dallas TX receives $6 million in contract overrun funding for the Missile Segment Enhancement program’s cost-plus-incentive-fee contract.
Work will be performed at Dallas, TX; Camden, AZ; and Ocala, FL, and is expected to be complete by Feb 29/12. One bid was solicited, with one received by the US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164; Serial #1971).
Aug 26/10: CDR. MEADS completes its final Critical Design Review, leaving the United States, Germany and Italy to make decisions about moving on to low-rate production in October 2010. The government-industry team had to demonstrate 1,100 elements of design criteria during 47 separate critical design reviews, and the week of Aug 23/10 featured the final summary critical design review.
The next step will involve the NATO MEADS Management Agency, who will conduct an October 2010 program review during which decisions are expected concerning production rates and sizes during the LRIP and production and sustainment phases. The question is whether MEADS will continue beyond the development phase, and in what form. The US Army no longer wants the system, Germany’s Bundeswehr is in the midst of savage budget cuts, and Italy is finding it difficult to meet its existing budgetary commitments.
Meanwhile, the program’s initial phase continues, and MEADS International is now producing test hardware and prototypes. Current plans call for Practica di Mare AFB, Italy to begin receiving the system’s first battle management and command and control system in late 2010, followed by launcher and fire control radar hardware in early 2011. Surveillance radar integration activities will take place in Cazenovia, NY, before all of the hardware is shipped to White Sands Missile Range, NM for 3 years of flight testing, beginning early in 2012. Space News | Aviation Week | defpro | Lockheed Martin.
Critical Design Review
July 2010: Battle manager. MEADS battle management element demonstrates interoperability with the NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS) during the Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW) test, which used NATO’s Active Layer Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) Integration Test Bed. During Optic Windmill, MEADS systems shared simulation and military communications data, including track reports for different tactical ballistic missile threats. The test represents the 1st time that the MEADS program has been authorized to exchange data outside of its 3 partner nations.
MEADS is designed to work with a wide range of platforms and command and control structures, and NATO interoperability is especially important to Germany and Italy. NATO ACCS is its overarching tactical command and control element for theater missile defense. NATO’s ALTBMD program is tasked with designing a theater missile defense architecture that will include MEADS as a key component.
Lockheed Martin’s Sept 27/10 release says that MEADS system elements are continuing integration and testing at system integration laboratories in the U.S. and Europe, and are on track for flight tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM, starting in 2012.
March 10/10: Army antagonism. The meeting, involving senior Army officers and the US Missile Defense Agency, produces no resolution concerning the potential transfer of MEADS to the US MDA. Instead, senior officials from both organizations reportedly agreed that follow-up questions needed to be answered, and additional analysis was needed first. Defense News.
March 9/10: Army antagonism. The Washington Post reports that the US Army wants to cancel MEADS:
“After several failed attempts, the Army is trying again to cancel a $19 billion missile defense system that the United States is developing in partnership with Italy and Germany… the Army says MEADS has become too expensive, is taking too long to produce and is difficult to manage because any changes in the program require German and Italian approval. “The system will not meet U.S. requirements or address the current and emerging threat without extensive and costly modifications,” an internal Army staff memo concluded last month in recommending the cancellation of MEADS… Officials said a primary reason for sticking with the project is that it would be too expensive to stop. If the Defense Department were to cancel the system now, it would be required to pay $550 million to $1 billion in penalties… [and could] undercut the Pentagon’s relations with Germany and Italy, which need to replace their own aging missile defense systems… The Army is scheduled to decide this week whether it will continue to oversee the development of MEADS or hand over responsibility to the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.”
Feb 1/10: US Budget. The Pentagon releases its FY 2011 budget request, and begin to break out MEADS-related spending from its Patriot programs, instead of aggregating them.
The FY 2011 request is for $467.1 million, down from FY 2010’s $566.2 million budget, but still above FY 2009’s $454.7 million.
Oct 6/09: Foreign crypto. The MEADS program has received approval to use a European cryptographic device to implement SELEX Sistemi Integrati’s Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) in its radars, via a waiver from the U.S. National Security Agency. This makes MEADS the first American system ever to incorporate a foreign cryptographic device.
SELEX’s IFF will be packaged into MEADS’ UHF Surveillance Radar, and its X-Band Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) used for missile targeting. Selection of the SELEX unit means that the MEADS IFF subsystem is available to begin testing this fall at Pratica di Mare AFB near Rome, Italy, ahead of schedule. Lockheed Martin describes SELEX’s products as:
“…more robust than current implementations of U.S. IFF systems…SELEX leads U.S. industry in IFF development because Europe has already adopted new standards for radar operation and civilian aircraft. The U.S. is moving to adopt these standards in the future.”
Sept 15/09: T/R acceptance. EADS Defence & Security announces that its transmit/receive (T/R) modules for MEADS’ Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) have passed all required acceptance tests “with margin,” paving the way for integration into the 1st of 3 planned prototypes. The firm says that it has produced more than 10,000 of these modules already, which are core elements of the MFCR’s AESA radar. During the Design and Development phase, Defence Electronics will produce thousands of additional T/R modules, including the associated control electronics, under a EUR 120 million sub-contract.
These EADS DS T/R modules are the only ones in Europe which are certified in accordance with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard – as is the “Microwave Factory” clean room facility in Ulm, Germany. These modules and technologies are mature, and have already been used in other EADS SMTR family radars, including the TerraSAR space radar, the BUR vehicle-mounted ground and air surveillance radar, and the Eurofighter‘s developmental E-Captor radar. EADS release.
Aug 5/09: Component CDRs. MEADS International announces that they has successfully completed Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) for all major components, clearing the way for production of radars, launchers, tactical operation centers, and reloaders needed for the system.
Under its design and development contract, this clears the way for MEADS International to provide 6 Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Tactical Operations Centers, 4 launchers, 1 reloader, 3 surveillance radars, 3 multifunction fire control radars, and 20 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missile rounds for system tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM.
The next stage is a set of CDRs for the system as a whole, instead of just its individual components. A total of 15 system-level CDR events will be completed in the year ahead, leading to final evaluations of MEADS’ survivability, logistics, safety, integration and test, life cycle cost, and performance. The final system-level CDR event is expected in August 2010, and initial flight tests are planned for 2012.
Feb 2/09: MEADS + IRIS-T. Lockheed Martin announces Germany’s request to add the IRIS-T SL (Surface Launched) as a secondary MEADS missile for German fire units. The request will involve software adaptation to integrate the missile and launcher Via a standardized plug-and-fight data interface, and incorporation of the second missile into existing MEADS simulations. This will be an early test of the system’s open architecture electronics. Incorporating the missiles themselves will not require any redesign of MEADS hardware.
The IRIS-T SL system is based on the concept of the short-range, infrared guided IRIS-T air-to-air missile, adding a larger solid-propellant rocket motor, a data link, and a nose cone for drag reduction. The combination of radar-guided PAC-3 MSE and infrared-guided IRI-T SL missiles would expand MEADS’ options by allowing for engagements even with the tracking radar shut down as a result of command decisions or damage. Competing launchers like Israel’s Spyder-MR (Derby radar-guided and enhanced Python-5 missiles) and France’s MICA-VL (MICA-IR and MICA-RF missiles) employ similar philosophies. Lockheed Martin.
Adding IRIS-T SL
March 28/08: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX received a $6.7 million cost-plus fixed fee contract finalizing the change order for the CLIN 0002 PAC-3 missile segment enhancement, effort, and making changes to the PAC-3 MSE master test plan. See Jan 16/08 for more.
Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX and is expected to be complete by March 31/09. One bid was solicited on July 30/07 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164).
Feb 18/08: Nav. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that MBDA Italia chose their navigation and localization system for NATO’s MEADS program within the design and development phase.
Feb 11/08: Lockheed Martin announces that the MEADS project has completed its System Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which tests whether the basic design of MEADS is ready to move forward into detailed design. Over the 6-month period leading to the PDR summary event on December 18, transatlantic review teams attended 27 multi-day design reviews to ensure that the needs of the three3 partner nations are being met.
The MEADS team will now focus on detailed design work for the system, with the Critical Design Review (CDR) scheduled for 2009, leading to initial MEADS flight tests in 2011. Lockheed Martin release.
Preliminary Design Review
Jan 16/08: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin announces that NATO’s MEADS Management Agency awarded them a $66 million contract to develop the Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missile as the baseline interceptor for the tri-national program. The baseline PAC-3 Missile was selected as the primary missile for MEADS when the design and development program began in 2004, but PAC-3 MSE adds additional range and coverage by using larger folding control surfaces, and a more powerful rocket motor designed to boost range by up to 50%, to about 30 km/ 18 miles.
The MEADS Steering Committee, composed of 1 government representative from each of the 3 participating nations, recommended the change following submittal of a study by MEADS International, Inc. that assessed the principal technical, schedule, cost, contract and program implications of integrating the PAC-3 MSE Missile instead. MEADS International Technical Director Claudio Ponzi:
“Changing the baseline interceptor during our Preliminary Design Review keeps risk to a minimum and keeps us on track to provide the three nations with the 21st century air and missile defense system they have requested.”
PAC-3 MSE development
Nov 15/07: Security. For the third consecutive year, MEADS International receives Superior ratings in an annual audit by the U.S. Defense Security Service (DSS). DSS has responsibility for approximately 12,000 cleared contractor facilities, and fewer than 5% demonstrate the top-rated “Superior” performance for an industrial security program. It’s reserved for contractors that consistently and fully implement the requirements of the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual in a documented fashion that provides a superior security posture, compared with other contractors of similar size and complexity.
In announcing the results, DSS team leader Rob Gerardi noted that although MI received a Superior rating in 2006, the inspection team found several improvements to the security program this year. Lockheed Martin release.
FY 2007 and earlier
Aug 14/07: TOC. MEADS International releases more details concerning its Tactical Operations Center (TOC). With a large US Army contract on the horizon for an IBCS system that would integrate all anti-aircraft defenses in a sector, MI President Jim Cravens adds that:
“We have invested years of architectural and conceptual work to meet these requirements via an open, modular set of software that gives MEADS great flexibility to accommodate additional requirements. This flexibility offers the U.S. Army an opportunity to leverage the MEADS Battle Manager functionality as a backbone for its IBCS (common TOC) initiative.”
Lockheed Martin joined Northrop Grumman’s IBCS bid team in April 2007, becoming the 3rd member alongside NGC & Boeing. Their team’s main competitor is Raytheon, who is partnered with General Dynamics as well as Davidson Technologies, IBM, and Teledyne Brown Engineering.
Aug 7/07: Lockheed Martin announces that MEADS recently completed its 2-day Start of System Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which allows the project to continue on to detailed design.
The Start of System PDR marks the end of 33 months of Design and Development effort. It summarized previous Major End Item-level PDRs, including allocated baseline documentation, and addressed a set of operational and performance analyses. The PDF kicks off a series of 29 reviews over the next 4 months, leading to a Summary System PDR in late October 2007. Initial flight tests are still scheduled for 2011.
June 19/07: Security Award. MEADS International announces that The US Defense Security Service (DSS) has announced that MEADS International is one of 30 companies to receive the James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award, the most prestigious honor DSS may bestow on a cleared facility. To be a candidate for the award, a facility must receive a minimum of two consecutive Superior industrial security review ratings and show sustained excellence and innovation in their overall security program, including a security program that goes well beyond basic National Industrial Security Program requirements.
This is MEADS International’s second James S. Cogswell award, and follows implementation of a transatlantic NATO classified network that enables MI’s 7 work locations to collaborate in designing the MEADS system. MEADS International release.
Jan 16/07: Lockheed Martin announces a $3 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to continue the Air-Launched Hit-to-Kill (ALHTK) initiative, which would enable fighter aircraft to carry and launch Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missiles to intercept hostile ballistic and cruise missiles.
Since a modified PAC-3 is slated to act as the MEADS system missile, and air-defense batteries can share information with fighters via channels like Link 16, the announcement has implications for future MEADS capabilities as well.
Feb 9/06: Management. MEADS International announces 2 changes within its management organization on the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program, adding a finance director/ treasurer, and a planning manager.
Aug 4/05: Management. MEADS International announces the expansion of its Orlando technical management organization to lead development of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) with a multinational set of appointments. In addition, 3 new positions have been added to the program management Team. See MEADS International release for more details.
June 17/05: MBDA buys LFK. MBDA buys a 100% stake in LFK, which used to be owned jointly by EADS and MBDA.
June 1/05: MEADS International Signs $3.4 Billion Design and Development Contract. The D&D contract extends the period of performance of a previous letter contract that was awarded to MI by the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) in September 2004. Lockheed Martin release.
Final SDD contract
April 20/05: Germany approves involvement in MEADS missile. This clears the way for the signing of the full development contract.
September 2004: NATO’s MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) awards MEADS International a letter contract valued in then-year terms at approximately $2.0 billion plus EUR 1.4 billion euros to design and develop the system, with an initial period of performance for which the overall maximum financial ceiling was approximately $54.5 million plus EUR 54.8 million.
Initial SDD contract
- US Office of the Secretary of Defense (Feb 11/11) – Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) Fact Sheet [PDF]. Provides program background, and explains the decision to end funding in FY 2013.
- MEADS International Inc. See also MEADS Program Overview Presentation [PDF]
Background: MEADS Components
- Lockheed Martin – Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).
- Lockheed Martin – PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement.
- Diehl BGT Defence – IRIS-T SL / IRIS-T SLS. Will serve as as the secondary missile in the German MEADS system.
- Army Technology – MEADS Medium Extended Air Defense System, Germany / Italy / USA.
- GlobalSecurity.org – Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) Corps SAM.
Background: Related Systems
- US Missile Defense Agency – Terminal Phase Defense. Includes THAAD, Arrow II, Patriot PAC-3 & MEADS.
- Designation Systems – Lockheed-Martin Patriot PAC-3.
- DID FOCUS Article – Keeping Patriots in Shape. The Patriot Engineering Support contract already included provisions for MEADS-related MEI work.
DID FOCUS Article – THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles. A ground-based complement to MEADS that offers the next step up in range.
News & Views
- DID – Alone, If Necessary: The Shield of Poland.
- SLD (Oct 28 – Nov 5/10) – Regional Missile Defense: The Challenge of Crafting Integrated Missile Defense in NATO and Other Allied Regions. Read Part One | Part Two.
- Air Defense Artillery Magazine (July-September 2005) – It’s Time to Start Thinking MEADS [PDF]
- Aviation Daily & Defense Report (Oct 27/04) – Germany Expected To Approve New MEADS Phase In December. Actually, it happened in late April, 2005.
- BASIC Publications (May 15/01) – European Missile Defense: New Emphasis, New Roles.