Panetta presses Congress for MEADs funding

Panetta presses Congress for MEADs funding

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hopes to save an international missile defense program that the U.S. Army has already decided it will not field.

The Pentagon boss wrote a letter sent June 26 to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, pleading for his support to insert $400.9 million back into the budget to fund the Medium Extended Air Defense System in 2013. Congress has already denied Panetta’s budget request to fund the mobile missile defense system originally designed to replace the Patriot.

Pentagon leaders had planned to end the program next year after the system had repeatedly experienced delays and cost over runs since the start of development in the 1990s. Lockheed Martin has said it has gotten the program under control and has met key bench marks since 2007.

Congress has chosen to terminate the program by cutting out funding in 2013, the last year of the Proof of Concept phase saying the nation can’t afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on systems it does not plan on buying.

Panetta and other Pentagon leaders want to pay for this last year in hopes of harvesting the 360-degree long-range surveillance radar that engineers have developed as part of MEADS. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh recommended to Congress that the service finish the program next year even though key lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., loudly criticized the Pentagon for signing an agreement with costly cancellation fees.

What complicates the matter is the U.S. is just one of three NATO countries aligned to develop MEADS. The U.S. is joined by Italy and Germany, although the U.S. is funding 58 percent of the program, which is led by Meads International Inc., which is made up of Lockheed Martin, Lfk-Lenkflugkoerpersysteme GmbH and MBDA.

Panetta told Inouye in his letter that pulling out in the last year would be “viewed by our allies as reneging on our promises.” Officials from Italy and Germany have each said they plan to fund the program.

This is not the first year the Pentagon has had to plead for funding for MEADS after Congress had originally denied it. Last year, the Senate terminated the $400.6 million requested by the Pentagon while the House of Representatives cut the request down to $145.9 million. After lobbying efforts by the U.S. military as well as German and Italian diplomats, funding for MEADS was reinstated.

Marty Coyne, Lockheed Martin’s business development executive for the MEADS program, said earlier this month at the Eurosatory land warfare conference in Paris that he remained confident that Congress would fund MEADS in 2013 after seeing how Congress reversed it’s original denial of funding last year.

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Congress has it right. Both Italy and Germany need to do the right thing and terminate this albatross, too. Italy needs the money to balance its budget and Germany needs the money to help pay for Greece. If the Army needs a new radar, let them pay for finishing that as a separate item. No need to work the missile just to harvest the radar. This is how the Pentagon wastes 30 cents of every dollar it spends.

I’m not sure if the DoD-requested FY13 funding would go towards ‘working the missile’, as you suggest. Per the story, if I read it correctly, it in fact does sound as if DoD is betting on the Program ‘harvesting the radar’, given one more year of development. That in itself would sound prudent, and worthy… ie, if DoD was in fact expecting the Program to at least harvest something of utility out of all the years development — which would be an effective modern radar system. In this case, it would be further justified if Italy and Germany were both requesting that the US complete next year’s development funding as they are apparently desiring to harvest at least some aspect of the Program, which could include a capable and effective defensive radar system. (something credible to counter any potential Iskander-type and cruise missile threats, among others, posed in the future)

So in my opinion, if it’s assessed as being able to lead to harvesting even some aspect of the technology, then it could be justified by all three parties involved in the Joint-Program — as long as Italy and Germany decide their military budgets should prioritize allocating funds for this system over other systems.

Maybe also try to capitalize on the situation and renegotiate with LM the requirements behind any actual FY13 funding allocation?

So when facing budget cuts (sequestration) Panetta wants another $400 billion?

I agree the Patriot SAM Dose the job for us just fine why waste billions for another SAM when we got one that works. This is another waste like AAS and GCV is turning out to be and despite budget cuts the Army is going ahead with wasting money right and left.

Im glad the army doesn’t run personal check books the bank would own the entire population of the US.

I personally think that the Patriot is going to be quite a bad asset for the US army going forward for this reason. It is not easily ground mobile. Given that it’ll probably be used to defend forward bases against Chinese ballistic and cruise missile attack, the fact that the weapon cannot be moved makes it far far move vulnerable against hostile attack than the MEADs system. For example, as the MEADs launcher is designed to be readily road mobile, it could move in between missile launch and impact or move regularly in between Chinese satellite fly overs. That means that the Chinese would have to use maneuvering / homing warheads to hit the launchers, instead of precision guided GPS warheads. That raises the cost of hitting each launcher, hindering the Chinese from building a sufficiently large supply of warheads.

To summarize, the Patriot missile system, the launcher primarily, uses one to two (!) generation old launcher arrangements. As the cruise missile and ballistic missile threat to US forces is increasing in the Pacific, the US should be buying better missile defenses for its forward bases. The first step towards better missile defenses is mobile launchers, a la MEADS.

Umm Modern Patriots can be mobile they used mobile Patriots as far back as Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I believe we need the long range missile defense such as the MEAD. Remember foreign nuke missile can cause toxic air pollutant near the territorial boundary after impact while a long range defense system such as MEAD can eliminate that threat.

The big question on MEAD is, what if there are 1000 nuclear BM incoming enemy missiles? Can MEAD stop that too?

The 360 degree radar is an Army radar. The fire control radars are Italian. Why the Army needs to save it is beyond me.

That’s a question better asked of THAAD and other TMD systems.


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