16 February 2011
Defense Industry Daily


MEADS: air view

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program aims 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. This DID FOCUS Article covers that program, and has been converted into a free-to-view article…

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 MEADS program appears to be the USA’s new 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.

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:

  1. 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. This is likely to be the first element of MEADS fielded to the troops.
  2. 360-degree, Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR, 2 radars). 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.
  3. Surveillance radar. These UHF radars will have self-diagnostic capability, to ease the maintenance load caused by replacing 1 Patriot radar with 3 improved MEADS radars.
  4. 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.
  5. Light weight launcher, including a built-in winch to auto-load the missile packs.
  6. Reloader.

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. Unless testing reveals serious weaknesses, it is the MEADS program’s most likely survivor.

MEADS: Mobility and Employment

Harpy UAV’s dive attack

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 Launcher & C-130

MEADS would be better than that, but it still isn’t really a forward air defense system for mobile units. It will 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 forthcoming 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.

Designed to operate behind those forward defense systems, MEADS’ broader goal was an open architecture system that can plug into broader defensive systems, working with 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 TOC with German, Italian, U.S, and NATO command and control functionality. Germany already plans 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

MEADS fire unit

As of January 2011, the program’s cost estimate was around $4.2 billion, but revised estimates threatened to push it even higher. The original plan for MEADS in the 1990s was for production by 2007, but the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding placed it at 2014. By 2011, however, that date had slipped to 2018 at the earliest, and the Pentagon had reservations about even that date. Those costs and uncertainties appear to have killed the program, which was structured as follows:

In September 2004, the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) awarded MI a letter contract valued in then-year terms at approximately $2.0 billion plus EUR 1.4 billion 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. The initial letter contract was undertaken under the authority of the MEADS Design and Development Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed by the United States and Italy in September 2004. The signatures of the U.S. and Italy allowed the Design & Development (D&D) phase to proceed on a “limited basis.” Germany’s recent acceptance and signature of the Design and Development Memorandum of Understanding enabled NAMEADSMA to sign the approximately nine-year, $3.4 billion MEADS D&D risk-reduction contract, extending the period of performance of a previous letter contract that was awarded to MI by NAMEADSMA in September 2004.

The US Army intended to see benefits before that 9-year period is 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 will evolve toward MEADS through the early introduction of the MEADS Major End Items (MEI). The question is whether the US Army will buy it at all, after declaring in 2009 that it doesn’t want the system. Italy and Germany remain committed to the project, and even if the US Army declines, the US Missile Defense Agency may pick it up.

Key milestones for MEADS include 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 are planned from 2011 – 2013, and deployment was scheduled for 2018. That date, and indeed MEADS’ entire future, is now in doubt.

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 will be allocated in accordance with national funding: USA 58%, Germany 25%, and Italy 17%.

  • Lockheed Martin will perform contract work at its locations in Orlando, FL; Dallas, TX; Huntsville, AL; and Syracuse, NY.
  • MBDA-LFK will perform work on the BMC4I, launcher, Surveillance Radar; and 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.

In MEADS’ absence, partner Germany and Italy would have several options on the international marketplace, if they wish to continue air defense modernization. They could simply buy Patriot PAC-3 systems. Or, they could accept less capability, and field replacement less expensive systems like the AIM-120 AMRAAM-based NASAMS from Kongsberg and Raytheon, a VL-MICA based system from MBDA, or even Israel’s SPYDER, modified to accept local missiles. Both countries already use AMRAAM missiles in their air forces, which could make a NASAMS option appealing.

They could also reach for more range than MEADS, and better ballistic missile defense than Patriot, by fielding SAMP/T systems based on MBDA’s Aster-30. Italy already uses those missiles on its ships, and common deployment of SAMP/T by France, Germany and Italy would offer useful industrial spinoffs as the system becomes the core of Europe’s missile defense, with enhanced export prospects. The down side to that option is its likely cost, which could be a problem given the Euro-zone’s fiscal woes and climate of 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.

Contracts & Key Events

MEADS: ground view

March 3/11: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $7 millionincremental-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: A Lockheed Martin PAC-3 MSE missile successfully intercepts 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… We look forward to delivering this important enhanced capability to the warfighter in the near future.”

See: Lockheed Martin.

Feb 16/10: 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: 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: 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.

Feb 14/11: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.

July 2010 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: 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: 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: 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.

MEADS elements

Oct 6/09: 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: 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: 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: 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.

PAC-3 MSE drawing

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: 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.

Jan 16/08: 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.”


Nov 15/07: 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.

Aug 14/07: 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: 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: 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: 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 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.

April 20/05: Germany approves involvement in MEADS missile.

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.

Additional Readings

  • Diehl BGT Defence – IRIS-T SL / IRIS-T SLS. Will serve as as the secondary missile in the German MEADS system.
  • 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.

  • 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.

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