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.