$2B Plus Cost Rise Doomed MEADS

$2B Plus Cost Rise Doomed MEADS

The tri-national MEADS missile defense program was not doomed by by a US Army eager to save money but by a cost overun of close to $2 billion. MEADS development was supposed to cost roughly $4 billion, so this would have more than qualified for a Nunn-McCurdy breach and required OSD to certify the requirement was still valid and to reform the program. Because of its status as an international program, however, it was not subject to the Nunn-McCurdy provisions.

On top of that, a congressional source familiar with the program said there would have been “several hundred million” in additional costs to — incredible as it may seem for a program under development for more than a decade — make MEADS interoperable with Army command and control systems. And testing costs — probably worth more than $100 million — had not yet been budgeted for.

Given that the United States already fields the Patriot anti-missile system [pictured], and works closely with Israel on several others such as David’s Sling, the Army and OSD clearly calculated that the US would not be losing a crucial capability. However, MEADS was supposed to provide 360 degree coverage and defend a much larger area  than Patriot. MEADS supporters also argued that the system’s life cycle costs would be much lower than existing capabilities. Those arguments now appear moot.

To avoid incurring what could be huge program termination costs (up to $1 billion) the Pentagon plans to fund MEADS in the next budget. It’s an investment of

To get expert perspective on MEADS’ demise, we contacted Frank Cevasco, one of the top international defense consultants and someone who has closely followed MEADS for more than a decade. While a senior Pentagon official he and colleagues at OSD pushed the Army to create a program office to manage a future extended air defense program, which eventually became MEADS. He said he does not represent any of the companies  involved in the program.

Cevasco said at least part of the cost overrun can be attributed to a plan to replace Patriot with MEADS on a one-for-one basis.  “I was told that doesn’t make sense as a MEADS fire unit has substantially greater geographic coverage than Patriot.  I agree there would be additional costs associated with integrating MEADS with a separate Army command and control system, a requirement that was levied on the program unilaterally by Army about two years ago.  Moreover, a portion of the cost overruns and schedule slippages can be attributed to the Army and DoD technology disclosure community who refused to allow the MEADS industry team to share key technology.  The matter was resolved but only after intervention by senior OSD officials and the passage of considerable time; and, time is money with major weapons system development programs,” he said in an email.

Bottom line for Cevasco: “Army has done its best from the every beginning to sabotage the program, preferring to develop a US-only solution funded by the US (with funds provided by the good fairy).”

What effect is the departure of the United States likely to have on MEADS. Here is the calculus of funding: the U.S. picks up 58 percent of the tab; Germany 25 percent and Italy 17 percent.

Given that MEADS was, once upon a time, the Pentagon’s top international program, the experience of the US with this program might be relevant to the current top international defense program, the Joint Strike Fighter. Interoperability is key to both and both have substantial portions built in allied countries. Cevasco has long experience with JSF as well, especially working with our allies.

He views the two programs “as very different.” The Air Force, in contrast to the Army, wants JSF and persuaded several other countries they should also want it.  “USAF is in full control of the JSF program whereas Army shared management and decision making with Germany and Italy. USAF understands that by demanding full control of the JSF program it could secure only modest funding contributions from its partners—but the USAF believed JSF was sufficiently important to US national security interests that domestic funding would be forthcoming.  And USAF/DoD advised its foreign partners from the beginning that some technology would be provided as ‘black boxes’ with anti-tamper protection,” Cevasco said. While some of the structural issues are clearly different, it does seem that MEADS may offer lessons for JSF, lessons on what not to do.

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Text excerpt: “USAF understands that by demanding full control of the JSF program it could secure only modest funding contributions from its partners…”

That’s arrogance: The U.S.A. want to purchase only 2.443 F-35s, but their nine international partners over 3.100 F-35s!

But I’m convinced that by now the foreign clients (especially the British) feel increasingly relieved to have contributed only with 10 % to the F-35’s total R & D costs and not with more – precisely because the U.S.A. refused more money and participation from them.

You wanted it, you got it!

What would the US need with MEADS anyway? It’s already got the Patriot system and the PAC-3 MSE missile MEADS was going to use. What would MEADS have brought to the table that the Patriot system doesn’t?

While I agree with your overall assessment, MEADS would have brought better mobility, a vastly better 360 active phased array radar and a better Command and Control system that would have integrated SLAMRAAM (well, at least until it was cancelled as well). Having said that, most of the advances could have been achieved at less cost by investing in upgrades to Patriot. Its not just the US, Germany has been looking to bail on the program for at least 2 years so this is not surprising.

Same with the M.E.A.D.S.:

“The company expects the U.S. contract for development and procurement to be worth about $10 billion. The European potential is another $20 billion.“

European missile defense alright, but only if the equipment is 100 % U.S. American?

Seems this and the recent cancellation of SLAMRAAM leave little in the way of plans for future Army Air Defense. There is THAAD but that and many of these systems are focused almost exclusively on ballistic missile threats rather than aircraft.

2443 f-35, you are optimist

A starking example of the low priority actually given to international cooperation in BMD, despite strategic guidelines in the BMDR. The alleged savings will eventually be spent with other contractors and international cooperation credibility is impacted.

Noo, I wish that the U.S.A. actually acquire 2.443 F-35s, or even 10.000 F-35s.

Is there a greater proof of my bad faith?

To the poster “Big Clouds”


Part 1 / 2

You wrote: “A starking example of the low priority actually given to international cooperation in BMD, despite strategic guidelines in the BMDR.”

True dat, but that’s twice wrong: For land forces, M.E.A.D.S. IS the only way to go after “Patriot”, even as anti-aircraft missiles (except if you went S-300 / S-400 / S-500 from the outset. Then you have a reason to smile now for being very smart). Are the U.S.A. simply going to STOP after “Patriot” ? No more “Patriot” evolution, forever?!

Are the U.S.A. also going to force their 14 foreign “Patriot” clients simply to stop evolving, after buying ~ 9.000 “Patriots” from them???


Part 2 / 2

Yesterday the M.E.A.D.S. cancellation, today the F-136 jet engine cancellation, next month perhaps a fraudulent KC-45 preterition, next century the F-35 cancellation… And your foreign allies / business partners buried their money in all of these projects, and lost it for still no intelligible reason at all…

Sometimes I wonder: Is anyone in the Pentagon aware of such marketing notions as country image and its effects in promoting exports?

Yeah — blame the Army for not sharing the secrets of the radar and missile. It’s not like foreign countries are trying to design weapons to foil PATRIOT. A few facts:
– MEADS and PATRIOT both use the PAC-3 MSE… at the point of impact, the weapon is the same!
– The claim for larger defended area comes from using a near vertical launch tube. Maybe we should have just bought near vertical launch tubes instead of spending billions on a new radar? Maybe the next RECAP of PATRIOT can have the tubes go vertical?
– Does “360-degree” radar matter when all the radars and satellites are networked together for a common operational picture?
– Can the Italians and Germans even afford MEADS once it goes into production? No they can’t.

MEADS was a handout to NATO in the 90’s. IMHO, MEADS should have been a radar replacement program, not a system-replacement program. Look for MEADS technologies to be in play when LM bids on the next round of PATRIOT upgrades and recapitalization.

Should have kept the HAWK Missile System in the Army inventory until MEADS was ready.

Here’s the problem from a Patriot soldier’s point of view. I’m a 14E, I worked on Pac-2 and Pac-3 systems.

1) MEADS had 3 radars (2 fire control, 1 air search). We had headaches with one, 3 radars would constantly be down for maintenance.

2) There is a lot of tribal knowledge in Patriot. This system would have caused a re-vamp of AIT and line units during a time of war and a budget crunch.

3) The Lower Tier Project office has it’s head in the clouds. They want a system that fits on a C-130. Not gonna happen.

Here is what I hope happens:
A) a new Radar for Patriot.
B) more upgrades in software
C) we sell Patriot to our allies and spread the cost

time will tell.

Ten Years..?? The Patriot has been around since before the Gulf War. How in the world would it take ten years to design a new system? Even more tragic (or Fraudulent) is…how could anyone who knows anything at all underestimate a project by BILLIONS. Or is it that the approval has to go through a committee who knows nothing at all about what they are supposed to be approving.? Much like our government. EPA and EBA comes to mind.
Time to get tough on those who do the procurement for our military.!!! Respectfully submitted; USAFE8RET

OOPs, I meant EPA and EAB. Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Appeals Board. Seems like a good comparison. I mean who is more knowledgeable, the EPA or the EAB. If it’s the EAB then we don’t need the EPA. Get it.? USAFE8RET

To the poster “Chockblock”

Part 1 / 9


You complained: “1) MEADS had 3 radars (2 fire control, 1 air search).”

Hey, “14E with vast P.A.C.-2 and P.A.C.-3” experience, can you COUNT ?


Part 2 / 9


1) The missiles themselves (M.I.M.-104),
2) the missile launcher (M-901), which holds, transports, aims and launches the missiles. This vehicle is necessary because each missile weighs almost 1 ton,
3) the missile reloader (a M985E1 truck),
4) a standard M983 with a regular-sized crane (L.R.P.T.),
5) the radar antenna (MPQ-53 or MPQ-65) to detect incoming missiles,
6) an equipment van known as the Engagement Control Station (E.C.S.), which houses the computers and consoles that control the battery (MSQ-104)
7) a power plant truck equipped with two 150-kilowatt generators that provide power for the radar antenna and for the E.C.S. .

As you (should) know: All in all, EACH SINGLE “Patriot” missile BATTERY forms a convoy of ~ 300 vehicles, Infantry and tanks included!


Part 3 / 9


1) A multi-function fire control radar,
2) a surveillance radar,
3) a B.M.C.4I. shelter (irrelevant),
4) the missile rounds ( = P.A.C.-3 missiles and canisters),
5) the launcher
6) the reloader.


Part 4 / 9

You wrote: “We had headaches with (maintaining) one (“Patriot” radar), 3 radars would constantly be down for maintenance”

Uh, let me see if I plainly understood your “technical” and “tactical” argument:

The big difference between the original, obsolete “Patriot” missile radar and the M.E.A.D.S.’ missile radar is that the “Patriot”‘s radar can only see in ONE direction = only forward = not even over its shoulders, whereas the M.E.A.D.S.’ radar (used by the same P.A.C.-3 missiles, and theoretically also by other missiles) sees everything 360º around itself.

But now the Pentagon killed the M.E.A.D.S. and decided that henceforth all spotting of enemy planes (all airspace surveillance) shall only be done in one single direction (“ahead”), because the lobby or trade union of you radar mechanics complained to the brass that doing any better also meant more work for you mechanics.


Part 5 / 9

Initially I even decided to keep a copy of your post, because of your shocking honesty, until I remembered that some U.S. general actually supported your view and killed the whole M.E.A.D.S. project…

I swear that I can’t stop wondering all these days: What would actually happen in “backwardish” Russia or China, if the S-300 makers decided to cooperate with E.A.D.S. and M.B.D.A. on a better missile radar, but their maintenance mechanics whimpered to the Kremlin or to the
People’s Great Hall (in Beijing) that better radars meant more work for them…?


Part 6 / 9

You wrote: “2) There is a lot of tribal knowledge in Patriot.”

1) What do you mean with “tribal knowledge” ? What do you maintenance mechanics do with (to) your missiles?

2) U.S. Americans aren’t the only “tribe with ‘Patriot’ knowledge” : ANY enemy already knows for 30 years now (1981 – 2011) that the “Patriot” missile’s radar can only see in ONE direction = straightforward! And how long – do you think – will it take him to figure out “which exactly” that direction today is? With a radar coverage of 180º, would you even need 2 guesses to figure it out… or do you need more?

Soo, if suddenly fighter-bombers pop up BEHIND the “Patriot”‘s radar, not in front of it, even real slow, what would you rather have:

A) More tribal knowledge


B) a M.E.A.D.S. ?


Part 7 / 9

You wrote: “3) The Lower Tier Project office has it’s head in the clouds. They want a system that fits on a C-130. Not gonna happen.”

Who has his head in the clouds?

“The launcher’s roll-on / roll-off capability for the C-130 transport aircraft was also demonstrated successfully.”
http://​www​.army​-technology​.com/​p​r​o​j​e​c​t​s​/​m​e​a​ds/ (7th paragraph, last phrase)


You wrote: “Here is what I hope happens: A) a new Radar for Patriot.”

How about trying M.E.A.D.S. ?


Part 8 / 9

You wrote: “Here is what I hope happens: […] B) more upgrades in software”

M.E.A.D.S. is not about upgrading old “software” versions, it’s not even about improving or replacing the “P.A.C.-3” missile ( = mere ammunition), it’s about developing an all-seeing eye for the “P.A.C.” missile family = a better, literally 360º surveilling radar! That’s why M.E.A.D.S. was always about HARDWARE ,
about “software” !

Out of only two options (“hardware” or “software”), you didn’t even get that one right, o “missile mechanic”…


Part 9 / 9

You wrote: “Here is what I hope happens: […] C) we sell Patriot to our allies and spread the cost”

An absolutely brilliant plan: At the beginning the U.S.A. only had to come up with 58 % of the M.E.A.D.S.’ development costs, the other 42 % were paid by us Euros, and today we were only a few months away from the first 2011 test shots.
Now, after losing those 58 % , the U.S.A. will probably decide to invest a whole 100 % again in developing an “improved ‘Patriot’” that’s clearly inferior to a M.E.A.D.S. (except no radars = very good for you radar mechanics) and offer this radar-less missile to their allies as a “cheaper, better” alternative to M.E.A.D.S. …

@Freefallingbomb: MEADS is a day late, a dollar short, and US/DE/IT can’t afford it.

Let’s back up and look at the big picture. Imagine you were “some US general” (your words) that had to worry about a portfolio of development programs.

Defense of MEADS is predicated on the PROMISE of its design specification. It is supposed to be cheaper to maintain. It is supposed to use less people. It is supposed to fit on a C-130 (size and weight).

However, we won’t really know until development is complete and NAMEADSMA estimates that will take 30+ months and $1 billion more for the US. (Their estimate)

Assuming that is $400 million a year, what is the Army supposed to cancel or divert to pay for it?

US Army RDTE highlights from FY2012 Budget Request:
Combat Vehicle Modernization ($1.2B) ™
– Ground Combat Vehicle ($884M) ƒ
– Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) ƒ($120M)
– Stryker ($102M)
ƒ- Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle ($32M) ƒ
– Bradley ($12M) ƒ
– Abrams ($10M)

Warfighter Information Network-Tactical ™development ($298M)

Development of key aviation, intelligence, and air defense programs ($1.7B)

Vital science and technology programs ($2.3B)

To the poster “James”

You asked me:

“Assuming that is $400 million a year, what is the Army supposed to cancel or divert to pay for it?
– US Army RDTE highlights from FY2012 Budget Request:
– Combat Vehicle Modernization ($1.2B)
– (the details)
– Warfighter Information Network-Tactical ™development ($298M)
– Development of key aviation, intelligence, and air defense programs ($1.7B)
– Vital science and technology programs ($2.3B)”

Did I just read “Development of key (…) air defense programs ($1.7B)” ?? Or is that the money to build a “better ‘Patriot’ ” from scratch, as I said, kinda “second attempt” ?

NATO: Need Americans (Amerikkkans depending on your viewpoint) To Operate

Not much of a loss…not too many EU countries investing in new weaponry (but actively selling in the global market place overcoming the shackles that American companies have on selling to shady countries) this budgetary day and age…NATO: Need Americans To Operate

In simple words: You answered your own question. The U.S. general is already sitting on the gold sack to finish the M.E.A.D.S., and I doubt he’ll need another 30 months for that.

And even 30 months would be nothing in comparison for the time needed to reinvent a better “Patriot” missile! Unless, of course, that the U.S.A. decided not to improve the “Patriot” missile ever again. But that would be mad: Something NEEDS to be done after 30 years ( = NOW ), anything!

@Freefallingbomb: MEADS hasn’t even cut metal yet.

One radar is down 1 hour for every 3–4 up. 3 radars add 3x the downtime.

Fit on a C-130 means the trucks and roll on/off without barely squeezing in. Unlike the photos show for a “Concept” MEADS launcher. Not a working prototype, but the mock up barely fit.

You forgot the BMC (battery maint. center) the PLL (parts semi) then BCP (batter command post) a truck for the Hot Crew and all the 5 tons and HMMWV that take the solidiers to and fro. The cooks, supply and the ECP guards. A MEADS battery would baloon to a PAC-3 size. There goes the “gains” in switching to FMTV’s.

We have no contractors with us. So everything must be 10 level right? Oh wait, it’s a new system and there are no TM’s. the 94s are now useless.

It was a good idea, but it was too much too soon. First get a new ECS. Then a new

American radar (sorry but the Italian radar was a big unknown). Then you can dump the 400Hz EPP and the HEMMT’s.

To the poster “jka”

You wrote: “Not much of a loss…not too many EU countries investing in new weaponry…”

Actually half of M.E.A.D.S. (42 %) was developed and paid for by two European countries, Italy first and Germany later.
The Germans already operate the “Patriot” system which fires U.S. American P.A.C.-3 missiles, but they also wanted to adapt the same M.E.A.D.S. system for an air-to-air missile of theirs called “IRIS-T”, that flies only a bit farther and a bit higher than the actual P.A.C.-3 missile, but it costs only 400.000 € (547.740 $), as opposed to the P.A.C.-3’s 1 million $ – 6 million $ . Like the U.S. American “Chaparral” tank, which also fires former air-to-air missiles (AIM-9 “Sidewinders”).

It’s worrying to see how international cooperation on military projects works excellently when any number of European countries are involved, but not when someone invites the U.S.A. …

To the poster “Chockblock” (you’re the “Patriot” missile mechanic, right?)


Part 1 / 8

You wrote: “MEADS hasn’t even cut metal yet.”

Lockheed Martin disagrees:

“Today, 1800 employees from these companies are completing final engineering designs for MEADS program”
http://​www​.lockheedmartin​.com/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​m​e​a​d​s​/​i​nde… (text written in 2011)

More about it:

“Subsystem critical design reviews (CDR) were finished in 2009, followed by a system-level CDR that finished in 2010. A series of 9 flight-tests are planned from 2011 – 2013”


Part 2 / 8

You wrote: “One radar is down 1 hour for every 3–4 up. 3 radars add 3x the downtime.”

Hmm… then maybe you oughtta address your complaints to the U.S. American company that develops the radar – Lockheed Martin again:

“Cutting-edge prognostics and diagnostics minimize downtime and reduce resources to sustain fielded systems for extended periods.”


Part 3 / 8

You wrote: “Fit on a C-130 means the trucks and roll on/off without barely squeezing in. Unlike the photos show for a ‘Concept’ MEADS launcher. Not a working prototype, but the mock up barely fit.”

Somebody in the M.I.C. disagrees:

“FMTVs can be carried in C-130 aircraft, and MEADS International has already tested some of the prototype systems for fit.”

It gets better:

“…or serve as an underslung load on CH-47/ CH-53 class helicopters.”

Answer now, you “Patriot” patriot!


Part 4 / 8

You wrote: “A MEADS battery would baloon to a PAC-3 size.”

Funny, every single Web article I read about M.E.A.D.S. says exactly the opposite:

“It will be easily deployed to a theater of operations and once there, will keep pace with fast-moving maneuver forces. (…) MEADS will also provide greater firepower with less manpower than current systems (…) ”.

Guess “which” “current systems” the author meant…


Part 6 / 8

“They ( = we Euros) could also reach for more range than MEADS, and better ballistic missile defense than Patriot, by fielding SAMP/T systems based on MBDA’s Aster-30. Italy already uses those missiles on its ships, and common deployment of SAMP/T by France, Germany and Italy would offer useful industrial spinoffs as the system becomes the core of Europe’s missile defense, with enhanced export prospects. (…) Iran’s continued development of longer-range missiles and nuclear weapons is likely to continue ratcheting up the pressure for European missile defense. If Europe decides not to rely wholly on America’s ‘phased adaptive approach’ of off-continent THAAD systems and land-based SM-3 missiles, SAMP/T would be the logical choice.”


Part 7 / 8

Finally, a surprising news:

1) “All 3 countries will almost certainly be financing MEADS development instead of paying termination costs, before going their separate ways.”

2) “Jan 4/11: The FY 2011 US defense ‘budget’ is passed in a very odd way, but it has a provision in it that’s specific to MEADS. About 75%, or $350.2 million of the approved $467 million annual funding, is frozen until a firm decision is made to either continue or cancel the program.”

3) “Feb 14/11: The Pentagon unveils the official FY 2012 budget request, which amounts to $570.5 million for MEADS components. $406.6 million would be dedicated to MEADS development, down from $467.1 million requested in FY 2011, and $571.0 appropriated in FY 2010.”

Etc., in:


Part 8 / 8

Maybe M.E.A.D.S. isn’t dead after all, just in a state of suspended animation?

Guys: Either we in the West are the best in the World in making electronics for and against airplanes and for and against missiles or not, what do you think???

I believe that what went wrong with this first attempt at making M.E.A.D.S. together was that we Euros had to pay larger sums for military R & D than our parliaments are used to, while they let you U.S. Americans try to solve the technical problems. So, may I suggest the following division of labour, next time we meet to finish M.E.A.D.S.: You U.S. Americans pay, we Euros think?


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