U.S., Germany, Italy Agree to Cooperate on MEADS Development

The United States, Germany and Italy this week agreed to maintain trilateral collaboration on a developmental battlefield short-range missile defense system, whose continued financing by the U.S. government has been strongly opposed by Congress, Inside Defense reported on Thursday.

The letter of intent on the Medium Extended Air Defense System, which was signed by senior defense acquisition officials from the three NATO allies on Wednesday in Brussels, does not include any promises of further financial support from the United States, according to unidentified sources. Still, the letter will likely raise some eyebrows on Capitol Hill where both chambers have taken steps to ensure no more U.S. government dollars go toward the air defense system's development.

The Defense Department has said it does not plan to purchase any MEADS units when they become available, but has defended its decision to allocate $380 million from the final fiscal 2013 spending law to the program. The department said the funding was necessary in order to fulfill contractual obligations and to enable the United States to benefit from any technological advancements that come from the project. The Pentagon did not seek any funds in its fiscal 2014 budget proposal for the U.S.-Germany-Italy antimissile effort.

One official said the letter of intent was a "political statement" that could serve as the basis for gaining access to MEADS technology.

The MEADS system is viewed as a replacement for the Patriot air-defense system. It is intended to offer advantages including the need for fewer soldiers to operate it, 360-degree air coverage and easier transport. The experimental technology uses a modified Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor, launcher, radar and battle-management system. It has been in development since 2004.

It is not apparent which nations will line up to buy the MEADS system when it finally becomes available. Poland and Germany are both rumored to be considering purchases of the technology. A number of Polish officials are anticipated to watch a system missile intercept test planned for early November.

October 25, 2013
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The United States, Germany and Italy this week agreed to maintain trilateral collaboration on a developmental battlefield short-range missile defense system, whose continued financing by the U.S. government has been strongly opposed by Congress, Inside Defense reported on Thursday.