A Medium Extended Air Defense System missile is launched at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., last year. During a new test on Wednesday, the system successfully intercepted and destroyed two targets simultaneously. (US Army)
WASHINGTON — Officials from the Polish government were on hand Wednesday for a test of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) as it successfully intercepted and destroyed two targets simultaneously at the White Sands Missile range in New Mexico.
Developed by the US, Italy and Germany for about US $3.4 billion — with more than $2 billion coming from the United States — MEADS is under consideration for Poland’s upcoming $3 billion to $5 billion missile defense program, according to Marty Coyne, air and missile defense business development director at Lockheed Martin. The US Army has canceled future funding plans for the system.
Part of any deal with Poland for MEADS would include “significant industrial participation” from Polish industry, Coyne added. “We’ve talked to them about the MEADS partnership model, where Lockheed and MBDA” — a consortium of European defense contractors teaming with Lockheed on the program — “work together as equals.”
Polish industry “would become a member of our team and not become a customer, or a client,” he said.
The Polish government is expected to downselect potential systems for more testing by January, followed by a contract award by the end of 2014.
Since the American testing and evaluation effort on MEADS is now over, and the US Army has canceled its funding plans, the MEADS team has been looking for ways to keep the program going without American participation.
But it isn’t completely dead. The US Army is wrapping up an assessment of potential technologies it might want to “harvest” from the MEADS program, and will submit a report to the Pentagon sometime in the spring of 2014 outlining what elements of the program it might be able to use.
During the course of the program’s development, the United States has borne the brunt of the cost, contributing 58 percent while Germany paid 25 percent and Italy only 17 percent. In March 2010, the Army itself acknowledged that MEADS lacked practical utility and requested an end to the program.