US should continue funding Medium Extended Air Defense System

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS).

From Baker Spring and Michaela Bendikova, Heritage Foundation:  The MEADS program is designed to protect the United States’ homeland, allies, and forward-deployed troops against a wide range of threats, including the next generation of tactical ballistic missiles. Compared to the Patriot system, MEADS offers greater flexibility, a 360-degree fire control system, and surveillance radars. The radars provide commanders on the battlefield with improved situational awareness and enable them to react faster. The United States will not be able to achieve the capabilities offered by MEADS with any combination of the current terminal-phase BMD system. …

According to the Department of Defense, funding in fiscal years (FY) 2011–2013 enables  the completion of the limited integration of the MEADS system. The United States will have invested $4 billion by the end of the process. For a total cost of $974 million in FY 2012–2017 ($162.3 million per year), MEADS can enter the production phase in 2018.

All three participating nations deemed the MEADS design mature enough to enter fabrication and testing. The first MEADS launcher was delivered to MEADS International on December 9, 2010, and the first MEADS Battle Manager was delivered on December 20, 2010. Both items are being tested at Pratica di Mare air base in Italy. …

The United States should reverse its decision and provide funding for production of MEADS to replace the Patriot and Hawk systems. A more advanced capability is essential for addressing the growing ballistic missile threat and expanding alliance cooperation in addressing this threat.

Baker Spring is F. M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy and Michaela Bendikova is Research Assistant for Missile Defense and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation. (photo: NATO)

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