‘Missile to nowhere’ survives

‘Missile to nowhere’ survives

Army generals have said repeatedly the service doesn’t want it. The Senate voted 94–5 to kill funding in its final year. But much like Michael Myers in the Halloween horror series, this missile defense system just won’t die.

Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air and Missile Defense System, better known as MEADS, sounds like a weapons system the U.S. military might want to invest. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced a $1 billion program to improve U.S. ballistic missile defenses following the nuclear tests and threats from North Korea.

However, the U.S. will pay $380 million to complete the development of a system that it doesn’t plan to buy. Paying that amount of money in the era of budget cuts with Defense Department civilians set to take a 22-day unpaid furlough is especially irritating for members of Congress.

One influential Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee has come to call MEADS the “missile to nowhere.”

“This is a weapons system that the Pentagon won’t use and Congress doesn’t want to fund. We shouldn’t waste any more money on a ‘missile to nowhere’ that will never reach the battlefield,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “Every dollar we spend on a wasteful program is a dollar we don’t have to ensure our service members have everything they need to protect themselves and accomplish their missions.”

Ayotte sponsored an amendment to end funding for the program — an amendment that passed in the Senate 94–5. However, when it mattered most, Congressional appropriators again caved and included $380 million in the 2013 continuing resolution to complete funding in MEADS’ final year of development.

Update: Ayotte has placed a hold on Alan Estevez’s nomination to be the next principal deputy undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics over her concerns the MEADS was funded even though the NDAA prohibits such MEADS funding. The New Hampshire  senator wants an explanation to why this is from Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale and Acting General Counsel Robert Taylor. This was first reported in PolitiPro.

MEADS was supposed to replace the Patriot missile defense system built by Raytheon. The system syncs up a hit-to-kill PAC-3 missile with surveillance and fire control sensors as well a battle management/communication centers. What’s often touted about MEADS is its 360-degree radar, which Patriot does not feature.

The U.S. is joined by Germany and Italy in this three-country program. So far, the three allies have spent about $3 billion with the U.S. picking up the 58 percent of the bill. Germany and Italy plan to continue to develop the program even after the U.S. drops out.

In 2013, Lockheed Martin, which heads the consortium of companies developing the system, hopes to prove in a flight test that MEADS can successfully intercept a ballistic missile.

The argument made by the MEADS lobby is that the military can harvest technologies from the missile defense system. Killing the program now would leave the U.S. with little to show for the investment they made in the program. Also, the termination fees written into the contract nearly equal the total amount required to fund the program in its final year.

However, what ended up saving the program from losing its funding was likely the jobs it provided in central New York, specifically Sen. Chuck Schumer’s district. The senator from New York lobbied Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to keep the funding in the continuing resolution. Schumers holds close relationships with Mikulski and Reid.

“Ayotte kept trying to get her amendment on the floor, but we blocked it each time,” said in an interview with The Post Standard.

A Lockheed Martin plant in Salina, N.Y., employees 235 people who have worked to develop the surveillance radar. The radar is one of the likely pieces the Army hopes to harvest from the program.

Ayotte has her own motivations. Many of the employees who work at the Raytheon plant in Andover, Mass., live in New Hampshire.

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Kelly Ayotte? New Hampshire? Yeah, all 4 of NH’s Congressional Delegation are WOMEN…and Kell’s kicking butt, for a young one!…She knows it doesn’t matter whether this missile is finished or not, fully funded or not, she’s just in it for the fight…
Ayotte is RIDING this missile to nowhere…

MEADS, as with the majority of LockMart’s defense products, is junk.

This does not imply that the mission is junk. Right here at DODBuzz, not that long ago, it was being admitted by a flag rank that the US has basically no area-denial capability, whereas the potential threat nations have such a capability and have been steadily augmenting it.

“Also, the termination fees written into the contract nearly equal the total amount required to fund the program in its final year.”

If the chief executive of a private sector business had signed such a disastrous contract, that CEO would be instantly sacked by the board of directors for acting against fiduciary interest. Yet in Pentagonland, this is normative.

“However, what ended up saving the program from losing its funding was likely the jobs it provided in central New York, specifically Sen. Chuck Schumer’s district.”

Schumer, champion of defense, just so long as it benefits his career.

I was a longtime proponent of beefing up Grumman. In retrospect, considering that it would have benefited the odious Schumer, perhaps it is best that the Iron Works is gone.

I am not sure how this article can say Congress did not want it when Congress is the group that kept it going. It does not matter what happens in the committee if the end bill does not match what is in committee. It is standard practice for politicians to vote no or yes in committee and then completely change there vote when it matters on the floor. I could be wrong but when this went down the Pentagon and White House said no and Congress said yes.

I’m sure Lockheed would rather have the termination fees than having to use that money to provide jobs for thousands of people for another year. Hard to believe that congress didn’t do Lockheed’s bidding this one time. It’s sad that DoD Buzz is so willing to be Lockheed’s propaganda tool yet again.

When they talk about the Pentagon acquisition system being broken, they should start with termination fees. There shouldn’t be any. Pentagon contractors get a guaranteed and paying customer. They should be willing to absorb some of the risk. If not willing, then as the only customer (its called monopsony), they government should force that part of the deal. We need better lawyers working our side of the deal. We don’t need two sets of lawyers (their and ours) working against the American taxpayer interests.

Termination fees are paid to Italy and Germany for the US pulling out of the program not meeting the MOU agreement between the nations for this program. They do not go to the contractor. If the US terminates the program they lose all rights to harvest any technology so all money spent so far is wasted. Termination costs = the costs to finish the program. Doesn’t take a genius to determine what choice should be made.

MEADS is part of an agreement with two NATO partners. It uses the Patriot PAC-3 MISSILE, but has a better sensor suite and has a much smaller footprint then the Patriot. The Army has wanted to kill this program for a long time, but the Program Managers have done a great job. Not only does funding this program fill an international need and keep oru word to our partners, but it replaces a 25year old plus system with one that has many advantages.

This article fails to mention Ayotte’s strong ties with Raytheon, hence her strong opposition to continued funding for MEADS. Secondly, failure to complete the development phase by the US means the US would relinquish all access to the technology developed. The Patriot system is 40+ years old, it needs to be updated or replaced. Since the US has stated they will not procure MEADS, the best hope it to harvest the technology, especially the radars, to use in upgrading the Patriot system. If the US didn’t fund the program for one more year, that would mean back to the drawing board for Patriot system upgrades. Talk about a waste of money.

Ayotte’s main issue is that MEADS could still potentially be the US replacement to Patriot, since MEADS has a lower-cost life cycle compare to the basic cost of continued maintenance and upgrading to the Patriot.

I’d respect Ayotte’s position more if she would call for a GAO comparison of the cost of procuring and fielding MEADS versus upgrading Patriot.

“If the US terminates the program they lose all rights to harvest any technology so all money spent so far is wasted. Termination costs = the costs to finish the program. Doesn’t take a genius to determine what choice should be made.”

Perfect statement. Thank you.

When the vote is 94 — 5 odds are that the 5 are just involved in the scam. It is very rare for a vote in the Senate to be so lopsided.

LOL your surprised with this idiot President and congress in charge. come on you got to lower your expectations now days with the Federal government.

Regardless of this missile the whole story shows how little democracy there is in our democracy. A few guys that have been in government forever like Schumer and Reid can have a conversation and the fact that 94 senators said no is completely ignored.

What there shouldn’t be is any contracts with “for profit” companies that put the US taxpayer on the hook to pay for a company’s development costs, and certainly there should be no profit associated with those costs. As it is now, the US taxpayer is the only one with anything at risk in a weapon development program. We pay the contractor $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend doing development, and then wonder why development drags out so long and costs so much as if there were some mystery to it.

Any spare MEADS laying around? I have some unruly neighbors.….….….

The committee system isn’t in the Constitution, and if anything, magnifies the difficulty of getting Congress to get anything done.

Isn’t Schumer a Senator? The entire state is his district. If I read the maps correctly, Grumman’s Calverton plant is was the first Congressional district, and Schumer’s old district from his house days is the 9th. Bethpage is in the 3rd district. Grumman lived and died before Schumer moved to the Senate, he was just some guy in the district nearby. (Grumman died in ‘94ish, Schumer moved to Senate in ’99)

That is a fairly true statement by and large, but understand too, this is NOT funding procurement, as Congress had cut, it is merely funding the final year’s development of critical systems completing development (systems which might be procured by other governments, even if the US does not).

And of course, let this not be just another recent flaw to be exploited by the truly un-democratic players that be, who would happily wish to simply poke a finger in the eye of modern, democratic principles outright.

Its all about capability imho.

I’m a little confused why Raytheon wants this program killed.

MEADS is essentially upgrades to Raython’s PAC-3, so unless they have their own proposed upgrade suite, what are the alternatives? I’m sure an Analysis of Alternatives was done at some point before they embarked on MEADS…?

Sorry, it said my reply didn’t post when it posted 3 times.

Ah, there’s my confusion. PAC-3 is a LM upgrade to a Raytheon’s Patriot missiles.

No hard feelings there…hah.

Finally!!! Someone with some common sense!! Thank you

Kelly Ayotte represents Raytheon who is a direct competetor to Lockheed Martin. Her politics fall in line with being in the pocket of Raytheon at the expense of Lockheed Martin. This is politics as usual. All big programs are expensive and the goal is to support the warfighter.

“Kelly Ayotte represents Raytheon who is a direct competetor to Lockheed Martin”


sed “s/support the warfighter/to make money/”

Does the system work? If it doesn’t find one that does.

Digging out old tidbits on MEADS:

Might Raytheon be making a play with NASAMS?

Or they want to protect the Patriot market to capture a captive audience for next gen upgrades? http://​www​.raytheon​.com/​n​e​w​s​r​o​o​m​/​t​e​c​h​n​o​l​o​g​y​/​r​t​n12

Though Ares says: (http://​www​.aviationweek​.com/​B​l​o​g​s​.​a​s​p​x​?​p​l​c​k​B​l​o​g​I​d​=​B​l​o​g​:​2​7​e​c​4​a​5​3​-​d​c​c​8​-​4​2​d​0​-​b​d​3​a​-​0​1​3​2​9​a​e​f​7​9​a​7​&​a​m​p​;​p​l​c​k​P​o​s​t​I​d​=​B​l​o​g​:​2​7​e​c​4​a​5​3​-​d​c​c​8​-​4​2​d​0​-​b​d​3​a​-​0​1​3​2​9​a​e​f​7​9​a​7​P​o​s​t​:​8​6​7​8​d​1​9​d​-​e​0​d​1​-​4​d​c​e​-​8​1​1​7​-​3​a​b​5​e​1​f​d​6​c57)

In the sometimes cutthroat world of defense contracts, a small mistake can cause a major headache.

In this case, a wording error buried in a lengthy report on boost-phase missile defense caused reports to overstate the sustainment cost of the Army’s Patriot program by more than $11 billion, adding fuel to a long-simmering battle between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

And it comes at a critical time for both programs. Raytheon is looking to secure Army dollars into the future for its Patriot system and to increase international sales, particularly to Turkey, but other countries as well. And Lockheed Martin is trying to keep its Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) alive while three different congressional defense committees are trying to shut it down.

In September, a National Research Council (NRC) report, citing figures provided by the Army Air and Missile Defense Lower Tier Project Office, estimated the per battalion cost of operating and sustaining Patriot would be up to $809 million.

Supporters of MEADS latched on to NRC’s initial figure, and multiplying that by the Army’s 15 Patriot battalions estimated the cost of operating Patriot to be more than $12 billion a year. That included David Berganini, president of Lockheed Martin’s MEADS International. Just before the start of the Association of the U.S. Army conference, Berganini wrote a column that ran on AOLDefense​.com citing the NRC report’s cost estimates as a reason why the Army should retire the Patriot in favor of MEADS.

But according to an Army document, the actual annual cost of sustaining the entire missile defense system in fiscal 2011 was about $545 million. The NRC’s $14.7-$16.2 billion estimate reflects the cost of operating and sustaining all 15 battalions over 20 years. That would put the annual cost of supporting the Army’s full complement of Patriot battalions at a high of $809 million, the Army document says.

The study’s co-chairman, L. David Montague, is looking into the Army’s response to the report. “Simply put, if there is an error in the cost, we want to set the record straight. And we will revisit it.”


There are moments when one imagines taking these stupid, wasteful expenditures to task by any means.
Why are we, the public, allowing this to continue?

I thought the DoD was fully committed to COST as an Independant variable CAIV (statistics speak for cost overules EVERY other consideration). If that is true: simply have one of the “independent” cost calulating organizations do a 20 year Patriot versus MEADS Life cycle costs analysis and the lower costs system wins. Either be consistent to what you preach or repent.

Yes! A GAO evaluation of the cost to upgrade & maintain Patriot versus procuring MEADS and its lifecycle cost is the way to go. As a member of the Armed Services Committee Senators McCain & Ayotte could get this done. They won’t, because their concerns are not about the cost, it’s about saving Patriot/Raytheon.

I’m wondering if the stunner/David’s sling concept nearing operational status (integrating Stunner with alternative, existing Multi-mission Radar as well?) might even be cheaper (thus affording more rounds), more easily mobilized and operational sooner? Could that system fit into the layered scheme?

Care to explain the condemnation of the MEADS system as “junk” or are you just throwing that up there to see if it sticks. Most “junk” defense systems do not have 100% test success rates that MEADS currently enjoys. Of course, everyone knows that throwing all the technology away and paying penalties to the partners, and then paying Raytheon to reinvent the wheel is far better stewardship than the current path. At least everyone in Raytheon’s corner knows this.

The termination fees go to Italy and Germany. What a good plan that would have been.

The penalty structure was erected to keep all 3 nations honest brokers in the program. Anyone who knows how fickle politicians are would be a fool not to set up a multinational contract without penalties. Now those who always complain that the allies in Europe never “carry their weight” should not be harshly critical of how MEADS was set up. Any time you can get the Europeans to cough up 42% of the development cost, I would think that to be a win.

The Administration’s contribution to this was interesting. In 2011 the Administration gave big Army a hobsins choice: Fund MEADS and lose Patriot maintenance or fund Patriot maintenance and lose MEADS. This was insane and big Army made the only sane decision: keep what you have and wave goodbye to the future system. Administration incompetence was the real fly in the ointment.

A majority of the Senate and the House had to pass this. It looks to me like calmer and saner heads prevailed on this one.

Two tests — 100% success in mission objectives plus success in all “streatch” objectives. Yes it works.

Mostly because you have not done the research necessary to make an informed decision on this.

The MEADS missile is a very capible missile. Google the flight test results for MEADS and watch the public distribution video.

I also believe the military does want and need MEADS. Air defense is one of the lowest priorities of the military, but I suggest that when we will need it, we wont have time to “ramp up” a program. MEADS offers the more capable Patriot PAC-3 MSE missile (50% greater range), a much better radar system, and 360 degree launch capability that will allow for greater coverage of the battle space. While MEADS is not nearly as capable as the Aegis — Standard Miissle system used by the Navy, It is needed.

“MEADS, as with the majority of LockMart’s defense products, is junk. ” C-130, F-16, F-111, L-1011, P-3, C-5 Galaxy, F-22, Constellation and variants, F-104, P-38, P-80, S-3, SR-71, U-2. Yes, these are all junk, non are class leading, non hold world speed records 40 years after they were built, non were revolutionary for their time, non were feared by those who fought them.

How’s your foot taste?

The DoD should fund R&D and production and maintenance costs separately. They also should fund this R&D as an investor, with partial or full ownership of any developed technology. Then they can license the use of that technology to future projects either for the US or for other customers. They could also ask for bids to retrofit existing equipment with technology they own rights to at more reasonable cost. R&D is too often used for profit padding by milking programs that are unlikely to result in a product being produced and used. There is little incentive to save cost by saving time or scale since more profits are made at large scales and long time frames and DoD is on the hook for the costs while projects linger for political reasons.

Agreed. We should fund R&D as /investors/ with the option to be /customers/. The way we go into things, we pay them to think about things we should have, and then pay for research and development, and then pay procurement. Buying things bespoke is expensive and results in low quantities.

Works for Bugattis, but not for Toyota.

We get fitted for suits, then try to sell them to other nations. We pay the tailor to learn how to tailor and for his equipment, then pay him cost-plus for materials and development, and pay him even if we don’t get a single suit from him. Then when the suit’s costs rise unexpectedly…here you go!

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