WASHINGTON -- The team of Lockheed Martin, MBDA Deutschland and Italy's Leonardo submitted its complete proposal to the German government to develop the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), hoping to be on contract in early 2017, according to Richard Edwards, Lockheed Martin's executive vice president of the Missiles and Fire Control business.
The program in Germany is called TLVS and will include integration of Germany's IRIS-T interceptors and the country's own battle management system, Edwards told Defense News in an interview at the Association of the US Army's annual convention last week.
Putting together the proposal was complex with many moving parts involving major contributions from companies from three different countries, Edwards added. It was originally expected to be delivered in the summer, but was ultimately submitted at the end of September.
The proposal review will begin as early as next week, Edwards noted last week.
The MEADS team is now one step closer to locking in development work it needs to bring the developmental system toward production and fielding.
It's been a long time coming since MEADS was a technology development program between Germany, Italy and the US. While MEADS was intended to replace the Army's Patriot air-and-missile defense system, the US ultimately decided it would not procure MEADS but paid to close out the proof-of-concept phase that ended in successful intercept tests and allowed the US to have access to the technical data package of the system.
While the US is still figuring out what it wants to do next to replace the Raytheon-made Patriot, which will likely remain in the Army inventory at least until 2050, Germany decided over a year ago that it would finish development of MEADS with the intention to build and field the system following that phase.
Raytheon has been closely watching the process play out in Germany. The country currently uses Patriot, and the company has proposed to the government an upgrade plan to its current systems to provide it with the ability to detect and defeat threats from 360 degrees.
The company has offered a Gallium Nitride (GaN) Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to the US Army and other countries, to include Germany, that would upgrade Patriot.
Raytheon has invested over $200 million to develop the technology over 16 years and has its own GaN foundry in Massachusetts.
The company circulated a statement just following the announcement the MEADS proposal was submitted to the German government, which states it is "making progress on meeting TLVS milestone."
The GaN technology Raytheon has developed "meets Germany’s requirements for the German [TLVS] or tactical air and missile defence system," the statement reads.
A Raytheon spokesman said the GaN Patriot is being presented to the German government as an alternate solution if the MEADS development project does not meet the TLVS schedule and performance.
"We remain in dialogue with the German government," Raytheon's Mike Nachshen wrote in a statement. "Additionally, the German Air Force will continue to rely on Patriot at least up to 2030."
Lockheed’s Edwards noted that if the German government decided it wanted GaN technology in its missile defense architecture, which it has not indicated, the company also has a long history incorporating GaN into proven systems.
The company has offered a solid-state, ground-based S-band radar since 2012 using the open GaN foundry model, which Lockheed said is an affordable method. Lockheed is also the only company producing AESA radars for the Army and the only US company producing and exporting GaN-based AESA radars, according to a Lockheed spokeswoman.
Lockheed is also using GaN in its new TPS-77 radars for Romania and Latvia and in the Air Force’s Space Fence, which is under construction and will come online in Kwajalein Atoll in 2018. The Missile Defense Agency’s Long-Range Discrimination Radar also used GaN and will be operational in Alaska in 2020.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.