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U.S. Blocks Funding for Lockheed MEADS Program

by Brendan McGarry on December 27, 2013

meads

The U.S. plans to stop funding a missile defense system made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Lawmakers agreed to prohibit using any funds for the so-called Medium Extended Air Defense System, known in military parlance as MEADS, as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.

The legislation, which sets military policy and spending targets for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1., was signed into law Thursday by President Barack Obama while he was vacationing in Hawaii.

The final version of the bill notably didn’t include language supported by the Republican-led House of Representatives instructing the Army to look for opportunities to use the technology in other systems.

The move is a loss for Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor that, in recent weeks, defended the program from critics and led an advertising blitz to highlight its performance during a live-fire exercise at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

Built by Lockheed, MEADS was designed to replace the Patriot missile defense system made by Raytheon Co., the world’s largest missile producer. MEADS incorporates a truck-mounted Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, missile battery, with a suite of sensors and communications centers. It also features a 360-degree radar, which the Patriot system lacks.

The U.S., Germany and Italy have spent about $3 billion on the program, which some lawmakers have called a “missile to nowhere” because the military doesn’t plan to continue development to full production. Most of the funding for the effort came from the U.S.

In a recent op-ed to Military​.com, Dean Popps, the former Army acquisition executive and acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition logistics and technology during both the Bush and Obama administrations, criticized the program as “an expensive, experimental, unproven burden to the U.S.. pocketbook that sits on the shelf, and — with each passing and expensive year — becomes less and less likely to ever be fielded or used.”

In a response, Dave Berganani, president of MEADS International, argued that the Patriot is aging and can’t meet the Army’s own requirements, and he defended MEADS as “networked, highly mobile, light enough to airlift, with advanced radars and launchers than can defend troops and civilians on all sides, not just in front.”

It’s unclear how NATO allies will respond. The German and Italian defense ministers have said the program must be part of any European missile-defense architecture.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

PATRIOT December 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Great, now that the missile defense program left behind by our presidents more capable and all around better predecessor has been scrapped from its potential in Europe, we now can count on our idiotic and neglectful politicians to provide less than satisfactory missile defense to our troops on the front line. Way to go Obama! Keep enjoying your multi-million dollar taxpayer funded vacation in the middle of the pacific while the swipe of your pen leaves our troops less defended than they could and should be. Get this clown out of office already

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Gregory Savage December 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Did you read both presidents canceled this. At any rate, I agree this is idiotic. At this point we midas well see this into fruition in stead of making other billion dollar waste of money with no product to show for the effort.

It would make more sense if they just slowed the program and procurement for this like they did the JSF. They could gradually replace the patriot batteries.

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Tad December 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

Ha ha ha, did you mean to write "midas" as opposed to "might as"? Whether you did or not, it's kind of appropriate given that everything the government touches turns to, well, it's not gold I'm thinking of.

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JCitizen January 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Heh!Heh! That is exactly what I thought! :)

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Kurt Montandon December 28, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Because "Congress" is Obama, and this totally wasn't a pork project for LockMart to milk.

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Andy December 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

Did you miss the part where Congress dropped the program from the appropriation bill?

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ed March 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

So, obama who knows nothing about missile defence decided to stop funding for a fruitful system which offers much more than patriot and instead he approved to spend much much more taxpayer money to upgrade the patriot to be 50% as good as the meads…..makes as much sense as president vacationing over and over and over on our money but meads ads which will protect us/our troops is too much. Ya, lets spend that money on patriot shitstem and his vacations, oh don’t Forget obama phones your majesty, I mean mr president.

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Brian B. Mulholland December 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Given the relative immobility of Patriot, and the relatively strong interest among European nations (that we'll probably need again as partners in future coalitions) this is a strange choice for cancellation. And if the relative unlikeliness of use is a criteria, there are a great many missile programs that we're less likely to need, and more conspicuously marked by systemic problems, then this program appears to be.

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mpower6428 December 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

over sold, doesn't work as advertised, and probably wont for some time…. but why rake a perfectly good political contributor over the coals. our good representatives probably had to BEG Lockeed to get it cancelled.

that is my totally uniformed guess concerning the real reason for cancelation. and I stress "totally uniformed guess".

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Uncle Bill December 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Are you stressing your play on words or your bad spelling?

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Really? January 5, 2014 at 10:36 am

Nothing made by US defense contractors have ever worked as advertised.

And Congress is no position to overrule its employers in the defense industrial complex.

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Highguard December 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm
@PanikaFalcon December 28, 2013 at 6:04 am

Does it seems to you Idiotic? US Military budget if Full of Pork Barell…But …
When US wants to catch up with Russians… No…
Since when you need to defend only sector of you air space? I think patriot was designed with serious flow. With only ability to arc not whole sphere.
But anyhow I will bet that this system was already finished to 95% so more pork barrel is commencing because some one will realise what I wrote above, So more money will be spent on essentially same system but produced by lets say Boeing.

I hope it will not be after US loses some important war, but something on scale wake up. 350M USD plane is Great but how many we can procure?

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moondawg December 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

It all depends on whose side you really support. The U.S., or others such as Red China or Russia.

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jack December 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm

When the aliens invaded you will wish we had the MEADS. LOL!

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Mike December 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm
oblatt2 December 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm

With out defense industries concentrating on delivering the least bang for the buck, the rest of Europe might follow Greece and Turkey and just buy Russian and Chinese air defense systems. Better performing and cheaper.

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majr0d December 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Problem is they don't integrate well with your allies. This is the reason Turkey has paused over its decision to procure Chinese air defense missile systems.

BTW, if they were so good. There would be more dead allied aircraft. They aren't bad but the "better" label isn't very well thought out unless ones just repeating the propaganda.

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oblatt2 December 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Nothing integrates well with American equipment. But if you want to buy from the suppliers who have gotten 90% of the SAM kills then you go for Chinese or Russian suppliers. Buying American these days can only be justified on political grounds.

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blight_ December 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Fair enough. Western nations haven't put ground-based air defense to the test for a while, doing a great amount of the killing in air-to-air. Conversely, it also means western nations have more experience flying SEAD missions…not super inspiring to the guy buying the equipment.

"We have more surface to air kills than Patriot, but we have lost variants of this equipment to cluster bombs, anti-radiation missiles, etc than Patriot variants".

However, the statistics are skewed based on the reality of western air superiority. The only way to really know is to do head-to-head testing with export variants compared to export variants, and non-export against non-export.

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majr0d December 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

blight – don't be so quick to buy oblat's BS. Afghanistan produced scores of Soviet helicopter and fixed wing kills with stingers and Patriot has successfully intercepted ballistic missiles as well as unfortunately errantly engaging and killing friendly aircraft (fratricide) at a MUCH higher success rate than Russian missiles fired on purpose at allied aircraft.

Nick December 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm
majr0d December 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

"…instructing the Army to look for opportunities to use the technology in other systems."

How does one make Lockheed share its proprietary newly developed technology with Raytheon, a rival company?

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Hawk December 28, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Atlas Shrugged

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blight_ December 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm

And the weaponeers went Galt, and stopped making weapons.

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loki January 14, 2014 at 10:06 am

And therein lies the rub with the defense industry , why is it their proprietory technology when the taxpayers paid for it? The patents should belong to the USA since we paid for its debvelopment.

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TerryS December 30, 2013 at 2:09 am

Seems to me this system duplicates many features of Aegis Ashore, a shore battery of Standard Missile 3′s with 360° radar etc. going into Europe. If so, why pay for both?

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blight_ December 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

MEADS is movable. Aegis Ashore is big enough that it'll probably be a static emplacement.

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Lance December 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Welcome to DC its politics as usual. The Patriot PAC-3 can hold the line for years some im not too worried. But not surprised at DC's infighting.

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Highguard December 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm

OK, l'll attempt to address all of the above:

- For the 3D envelope of airspace that PAC-3 defends, it is hands-down the best system we have in the field. There are other systems available for procurement, however (e.g. Boeing Arrow II and Raytheon PAAC-4 Stunner) that would perform much better in conjuction with other BMD Interceptors to cover the upper tier (THAAD, Arrow 3) and midcourse (SM-3, Common Kill Vehicle, etc.) as well as AMD Interceptors to cover slower Air Breathing Threats (ABTs), e.g. Avenger, ENBAD, ESSM, RAM, etc.

- Allies rarely want to purchase a US weapon system that we ourselves do not field for our own forces. They are understandably leary of anything we don't seem to want but are trying to sell. That is why it is important that we build the right systems that are most needed. Exceptions to this would be systems that are clearly better than what we have fielded.

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Highguard December 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm

- Defense Contractors do not share proprietary technology unless they have decided to work together on a weapon system and only those elements essential to completion of the project or system would be shared. In a large, growing economic backdrop, we should be trying to foster more competition. In a constrained economy (like we have now) where we have adversaries ready to kick us out of their backyard, it would be wise for Gov't to encourage more cooperation on capabilities and give them each a piece of the pie. Unfortunately the acquisition system we have developed does not support this type of flexibility and we taxpayers should be concerned about that.

- Because SM-3s now cost $21M a pop and we shouldn't have to pay that much for BMD, if we hope to have robust BMD…..

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Highguard December 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm

- The PAC-3 cannot hold the line on its own, especially when the battery gets hammered by an attack from adversary weapons it is not good at defending against. PAC-3s are now $7M a pop. If you have a Btry of 32 you sent out of their own without circling the wagons, you just lost the American people a quarter billion dollars

- Scramjet missiles, which, given our slow acquisition system, we'll be lucky to get a small batch of in the next 12 years do not make good interceptors, high or low. They are needed as offensive weapons because they can out run and easily avoid slower, supersonic interceptors. They are not good for BMD intercepts because they are air-breathers and the atmosphere runs out of oxygen starting at 70-80,000-ft. They are not good for intercepting low and slow ABTs because of the cost differential. Would you want to fire 5 Scramjet interceptors (costing $2M ea) at a flock of UAVs or Harpy's (costing $30-50K ea)? Definitely not.

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oil December 31, 2013 at 10:55 pm

First of all scramjets have no moving parts which should make them easy to manufacture. Second they have a theoretical ceiling of 72 kilometers. Third they have a theoretical speed of around 17 to 24 thousand miles per hour. You couple that with electromagnet rail gun that will be a part of the navy you’ve got yourself an offensive and like said defensive weapon. Thank you for your opinions thought and insights why scramjets would not qualify as a defensive weapon which really depends on location location location.

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JCitizen January 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Attempted to reply but administrator must have thought I was giving away atomic secrets or something! >:(

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oil January 1, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Create a bomber with more than one electromagnetic rail gun or one that rotates like a barrel or one that shoots out one per sec. Don’t know if the dimensions could be made smaller to be retrofitted on a B52 or a B1. These bomber would fly where known or probable launch sites exist judging from the topography of land a computer and algorithms would take care of the location of the missiles. A Bomber with electromagnet rail gun and scramjet missiles can be used to shoot down ballistic missiles as they are launched into space. As for the energy source to power this I would have to say mini fusion reactor. I have a few other safe power sources in mind but I will keep it to myself. Look at the SR 71 blackbird that was built over 40 years ago and tell me this can’t be built.

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dr. agreeable January 9, 2014 at 5:32 pm

But why keep them to yourself? Humanity needs to know, friend. Make the world a better place.

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joe January 4, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Mini fusion? We'ed have to get any fusion reactor working first and 'they' have been saying fusion is 50 years away for better then 50 years. I like the idea of short barrel railguns but I can't see one with the range-energy to do much with existing materials. What we need is a good source of unubtainium and nonexistium for the low weight, small size, high power density.

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HoBo January 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm

The report of the 32nd AAMDC states in its section "AMD lessens learnt from Operation Iraqi Freedem on page 53: "OIF VALIDATED THE REQUIREMENT FOR MEADS". Read it, think and act properly. http://www.globalsecurity.org/jhtml/jframe.html#h

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Weson Ribig July 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hearing all the comments from you guys, it seems to me, as if the US has lost its credibility. Actually, as far as i know,the US has every super weapons, advance anti gravity fighter planes. Like the one i saw here in my country, ( sarawak) a state in Malaysia. And also i have many more on you tube. In term of weapons systems, the US is uncomparably a powerfull country. That is a very secret, secrets. They have the so called, The TR3B, The Sky Dreadnoughts, and many others. They are hiden from views.

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blight_ December 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Hmm. I was thinking more of larger SAM systems, and not MANPADS intended for use against comparatively slower helicopters.

It's more to do with the monopoly of western air power making most air vs ground encounters western aircraft against warsaw pact air defenses. Since the coalition airforces over Iraq overmatched Iraq's, the air defenses of the coalition were never tested: thus one could argue that they had "less kills" against WP aircraft, even though it ignores the circumstances behind the kill ratios.

It's probably better for world peace that we never did find out.

Russian systems will inevitably be cheaper, but when you buy from someone else, it's hard not to be wary of what you're getting. At least the Israelis have the right idea with using Elbit to fix up the aircraft they get, and are not entirely beholden to American avionics.

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majr0d December 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm

The Stinger was actually designed to take down fixed wing. Helicopters were a plus.

Not denying your point about the lack of opportunity for friendly air defense systems to engage enemy air but I did offer you at least two examples.

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