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Germany may decide this year to spend up to €3 billion to go it alone on the MEADS anti-missile program — following its axing by the US government — in order to make it operational by 2018, an official said on June 16.
“The money would be spent on aligning MEADS with German standards and adapting it to fire the Iris-T missile, and it would start to go operational by 2018-19,” said Wolfram Lautner, a spokesman for MBDA Deutschland, the German unit of the European missile firm, which partners on the program.
MEADS, a mobile anti-missile system, was originally developed by the US, Germany and Italy, before the US decided not to acquire it, leaving its fate uncertain.
But Germany has suggested it could push on with development, which is almost complete, and Lautner said the final decision could come in the second half of this year.
“There is a requirement, and an RFP could be issued either to MEADS or for an updated version of the Patriot system Germany operates,” he said at the Eurosatory show in Paris.
“After that, there will be a negotiated contract and parliament will decide since the cost will exceed €25 million. Germany would get a system based on MEADS for €2.5-€3 billion.”
A post-MEADS program in Germany would use the MEADS battle manager system, radar and launcher. Time is tight — at the end of this year, contract money for work on the program will end.
Lautner said that Germany could go it alone with MEADS, even if Italy does not join in or Poland buys into the program.
Lockheed Martin has been marketing the system to Poland as it looks for a new missile defense capability. Speaking at Eurosatory, Marty Coyne, Lockheed Martin’s MEADS business development manager, said the Ukraine crisis and an increasingly aggressive Russia could boost MEADS’s chances in Poland.
“Ukraine has put the focus on accelerating (the program) for Poland and it puts MEADS at an advantage because there is a near term threat and MEADS has a 360 degree capability,” he said.
MEADS is competing against the Raytheon Patriot system in Poland.
“Raytheon has now said it will do an open architecture Patriot with 360 degree capability. We started that over 10 years ago,” Coyne said. “Poland cannot wait 10 years.” ■