Counterpoint: MEADS is a Bargain, and Only Solution for Evolving Threats

Counterpoint: MEADS is a Bargain, and Only Solution for Evolving Threats

Ed Note: Dave Berganani is the President of MEADS International. This is his response to the editorial that Dean G. Popps, the former Army acquisition executive and acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology, wrote for DoDBuzz on Dec. 1.

It’s important to note that Patriot has cost more than MEADS over the past decade, and despite modifications and upgrades, also cannot meet Army requirements. The mission is changing, and so are threats in the hands of determined adversaries.

So the need to replace Patriot remains, and Germany, Italy, and the U.S. now need an air and missile defense system that is networked, highly mobile, light enough to airlift, with advanced radars and launchers than can defend troops and civilians on all sides, not just in front. Despite its costly modifications, Patriot is no closer to these objectives than it was when its development began over 40 years ago.

That’s why the recent unprecedented 360-degree dual-intercept test of the entire MEADS system is so important. No other air and missile defense system can do what the mature MEADS radars and launchers have demonstrated. There are no alternatives in the U.S. arsenal, and full-perimeter protection is already needed. Note that the 9-year MEADS development program has cost the U.S. less than Patriot modernization programs during the same period, and because of MEADS, the Army now has a demonstrated, affordable solution to its 21st century mission needs.

For example, the U.S. can integrate MEADS plug-and-fight fire control and surveillance radars and launchers with future networks in any quantity, but with immediate impact on range, versatility, and lethality. They offer capability to custom match Army resources to mission needs – less cost, but more punch. Quickly.

In addition to mission performance, cost remains a critical factor. MEADS has been specifically designed to cost less to operate and maintain than Patriot. It uses 2/3 the manpower of Patriot, and fewer MEADS systems using fewer vehicles provide 8 times the coverage. MEADS takes fewer aircraft to deploy. Its modern electronic designs are more reliable. MEADS does more and costs less.

Based on manpower savings alone, replacing Patriot with MEADS could save enough money in the next 25 years to procure MEADS. Twice.

Remarkably, U.S. developmental programs terminated for convenience in the past few decades total more than $46B, according to the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment. The successful MEADS program should not be added to this list. The technology is right, the need is urgent, the costs are lower, and the Soldier of 2020 deserves something better than Cold War defenses.


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For the Pacific where you can attack from more than one angle, I’d go with MEADS.

The difference, and what makes it a hard sell, is that Patriot, while not great, is battle tested. That speaks for a lot, which means people are going to lean to what they know than accept the risk. And since the government’s finances were left in tatters in an ugly recession of likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression, getting folks on board will be tough even if its a good system.

Sometimes, the timing simply isn’t there.

Batle tested and found wanting is hardly a recommendation.

When the Patriot system was implemented it probably wasn’t battle tested either — it was probably through the same gauntlet of tests as the MEADS radar is going through now. It’s better and cheaper — that’s something you have to move forward with.….……

Spent almost ten years on Patriot. Did spend ten years on MEADS.

Both programs had problems. But MEADS is the only logical replacement for Patriot, and is needed now.

Not really the writer here spent too many times reading the MEADs brochure. Its cheaper with Patriot because we already have thousands of missiles launchers and all personnel is trained to use them. It be BILLIONs more to replace everything with this ERO MEADS. MEADss has alot if issues and is hardly reliable. Time for Dave to stop drinking the company cool-aid and look at another thing.

Besides the Pentagon said it wont buy MEADs.

Anyone have an objective breakdown of the differences between both systems? The radar systems on both are probably the most obvious component, but I’ve yet to dig into the matter myself. I might have to though…

Lance, the writer wrote the brochure. Literally. You didn’t notice it’s a guest writer, and the president of MEADS at that?

Smaller launchers
360 launch capability
advanced battle management
longer larger missile then pac 3
more mobile

It freaking amazing me how they cancel finished projects over and over again. Unbelievable, where is our offing congress on this? I mean we still have the LCS boondoggle, but can’t update our air defense for less then the current air defense. It all just seems idiotic.

360 radar too.

This has been the problem with MEADS, lots of claims but no substance. Berganini tries to compare spending for MEADS lab experiments with the funding to put real technology advances and capability in the hands of US soldiers manning Patriot units deployed around the world. Ask those soldiers what they got from the so-called MEADS bargain. MEADS’ November demonstration required three missiles costing more than $5 million each for targets that our forces and allies were destroying in the mid 90’s for less than $1 million. That isn’t progress, it’s waste. Check the facts on MEADS development at http://​www​.acq​.osd​.mil/​d​o​c​s​/​U​.​S​.​_​M​E​A​D​S​_​D​e​c​i​s​i​o​n_F

I read the article. Really we should have cancelled it in 2007 from what you wrote. Now that we are canceling a working system seems a little silly to say the least.

When it comes to performance, my only concern is that MEADS can’t fire the older PAC-2 series missiles. The PAC-3 series are far superior against ballistic missiles but the PAC-2 is a larger missile with greater range against aircraft.

If we are going to upgrade Patriot with enough new systems to eventually make it similar to MEADS (which is itself an evolution of Patriot in most regards), then why not just go with MEADS?

Being a more compact and easier to deploy system it might partially make up for the cancellation of SLAMRAAM.

Can someone with a technical background clear up the accuracy issue. Since the days when George Bush Sr. praised Patriot at Raytheon declaring it had a 100% kill rate while the Israelis were saying it hit nothing. What’s the truth, then and now between Patriot and MEADS?

Let us examine the “its battle tested” argument in light of the fact that the last battlefield intercept by Patriot was ten years ago back in 2003. Also, even though the B52 was battle tested, that did not mean we should not have developed the B1 and the B2. The F15 and F18 are also battle tested but that is a poor argument against fielding F22 and F35s for the air battlespace of the future. If “battle tested” was the trump argument PolicyWonk thinks it is, the Sherman Tank should have been preferred to all its successors including the M1! The bottom line is NO new weapon system is “Battle Tested” until it is procured and deployed on the battlefield.

The real issue is suitability for the current mission and adaptability for missions yet to be fully defined. Under that standard, MEADS is the first best solution to the mid-tier AMD challenges facing us in the 21st Century. It is time to give Patriot a flag that has flown over the Pentagon, a gold embossed certificate of appreciation, and put it out to pasture.

Then why is Patriot getting ready to field the MSE missile that MEADS uses? Your missile cost argument is a FAIL since Patriot will use the MSE but only at a fraction of the MSE’s capabilities. MEADS uses the MSE to its full capacity. BTW, the targets destroyed by MEADS were the same targets used to test upgrades to Patriot so your “inferior targets” argument is also a Fail with a great big red F. Let me guess, you work for Raytheon who spent years tying up MEADS in court after losing to Lockheed. Much of the “delay” was due to Raytheon crony capitalism not to technical non-performance by MEADS.

More of our adversaries, going forward, will be fielding TBMs rather then Gen 4 or later Air Forces. In addition, the PAC-2 GEM kill modality of sidling up to the target and setting off a big shrapnal bomb is not the future of AMD systems now that hit-to-kill is the new gold standard. Finally, a PAC-2 launcher can carry 4 missiles while a smaller C-130/A-400 transportable MEADS launcher carries 8 missiles. The MEADS launcher can reload faster than the Patriot launcher in the field. The future of Patriot PAC-2 missiles is to become targets (PAAT) for the AMD system of the future. That future should be MEADS.

If MEADS was cancelled in 2007 it would have been prior to CDR (Critical Design Review). As big system development goes, MEADS is doing quite well indeed. Did you ever notice that everyone who is whining and complaining about MEADS has either a Raytheon factory in their district/state or has some vested interest in Raytheon?

Has the GAO generated any newer report on MEADS?

GAO report mentions “PATRIOT/Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) Combined Aggregate Program (CAP) Fire Unit”

Some kind of combined program? What happened in 2011?

In 2011 Loren Thompson weighed in on the side of MEADS, but I’m not sure how objective he is.

Wish some Air Defense people could comment, to the limits of operational security.

So long as PAC-3 can hit aerial targets before they fire ALCM’s we should be as safe as before, especially with higher P(kill). Longer range is probably more important if your P(kill) is low, as it gives you time for a followup.–12-03/germany–

Looks like the Germans may try a mixup of MEADS systems and Patriot missiles.

There is a lot of emphasis on 360 degree of coverage. This capability is useless for missile defence. You should simply point the system at your advisary. They will never launch a missile from behind your lines toward you.

This is another example of some defense PM trying to sell the Army some capability it does not need.

FYI, Pacific Islands do not have “lines.”

One has to ask whether 40 year old technology vs. new technology is worth it. As I see it the argument for Patriot is that it is battle proven and therefore its technology and training are available to the Air Defense Schools and as such there is a well-defined logistical arm. What I’m hearing is that MEADS cuts the logistical costs, its technology is more up to date, the System coverage is spherical rather than directional and the System is interoperable with our NATO Allies. So I have to ask, is the main reason the US Army is opposed to MEADS is that it wasn’t invented here? Our Allies, specifically Germany and Italy, managed to support the development of MEADS even though their Countries MoD budgets are microscopic compared to the US. As I understand the contractual arrangement the MEADS Program is run through a NATO Project Office rather than AMD or the US Army so maybe we are talking Turf Protection rather than what is good for US.

Early Patriots had proximity fuses and blowup near the target causing little pieces of metal to shred the target. The newer missiles are all hit to kill. The question was if the proximity detonation was sufficient to cause the SCUD missiles during Desert Storm to disintegrate and/or tumble. I believe that the detonation caused the incoming missiles to become out of control but others believe it was just luck that the SCUDs started tumbling right after the Patriot missile exploded in the vicinity.

There are American companies in it too. They’ll probably send their lobbyists back to Congress to keep it funded.

Until the army resurrects Coastal Artillery (though I thought this was a navy function? Let the squabbling begin), MEADS is just something you put on an island that gets bypassed. Unless you put it on first-island-chain islands…

I still believe that some islands in the Pacific are just TOO strategic to ignore. I’m not talking the Philippines.

As they usually have a ton of military hardware/personnel, but usually light AAA, I would rather see them stand a higher chance of survival.

If the Navy is especially worried, then it’s time to build out a Pacific SOSUS net.

I wonder if they could bring back NR-1…or its successor under black budget, instead of on the Navy’s dime.

You mean the exact same missile is longer when used with MEADS?

“longer larger missile then pac 3″

This is incorrect. Both Patriot and MEADS will launch the new PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) rounds. While MEADS will only launch PAC-3 MSE, the MSE program has been ongoing separately, for upgrading Patriot system. So, Patriot system has as much range and kinematics capabilities as MEADS, there will be no difference in this front.

Also, another thing to note is that Patriot on the other hand, is supplemented by mix of both PAC-3 and PAC-2 missiles, each missile with strengths and weaknesses. While PAC-3 rounds are used for anti-ballistic missile defense, for defeating air breathing threats (i.e. manned aircraft, cruise missiles, air to surface missiles, etc), PAC-2 missile still suffers substantially longer range than PAC-3/MSE and MEADS. PAC-2 missiles can provide downrange distance of up to 160km, where as PAC-3 MSE can do about half that, at most.

The geometry of intercepting ballistic missiles and air breathing threats is vastly different. MEADS only addresses primarily ballistic missile threats and is actually a capability-downgrade when it comes to addressing air breathing targets at long range, compared to Patriot. This is one of the key reasons (other than the cost of replacing everything) on why MEADS is not a game changer as manufacturer claims it is.

Patriot does everything MEADS claims to do today, except for 360 degrees capability — but even this is changing soon, with introduction of floating balloon (JLENS) radar and netted sensors.

PAC-2 GEM-T has consistently demonstrated high pK against air breathing threats, including cruise missiles and air-to-surface (i.e. anti-radiation) missiles. It’s just that when you’re engaging hypersonic ballistic targets, you’d want hit-to-kill technology to ensure that the warhead is destroyed, since when a ballistic missile gets hit, unless it is fully destroyed, it will still fall to the ground *somewhere*, usually within protected civilian area.

Air breathing targets however (cruise missiles, aircraft, air to surface missiles, etc) are different story — these can be damaged by shrapnel and will lose their aerodynamic control capability and just veer off and come apart altogether.

So, with that said, let’s look at the economics of engagement here.

A single PAC-3 CRI round costs roughly $1.2 million per round. A PAC-3 MSE round is projected to cost about $5 million per round, if not more. A PAC-2 GEM round only costs as low as $230,000 depending on which production run you’re in.

So yes, PAC-3 MSE is a much more ‘lighter’ missile that can be stacked and faster to reload, etc; but PAC-2 still provides unbeatable cost per engagement economics when you’re dealing with massed saturation attacks. PAC-2 missile is a capability you do not want to lose; it’s like saying we should get rid of SM-2 missiles altogether because ESSM is available at higher ammo count and smaller round size.

It will not take more than one (1) successful hit from an EMP type of weapon on the United States to generate the necessary public pressure to allocate funding for just about ANY DEFENSIVE MISSILE SYSTEM. That being said, just one (1) successful hit will eliminate all sources of funding for ANY DEFENSIVE MISSILE SYSTEM from ever being built by this country again. Do we really want to take that chance? I know that I do not. I had much rather have several expensive and accurate missile defense systems, working in concert, to protect this nation, it’s citizens,and our resources against an enemy attack. Wouldn’t you? Think about it. National security comes at a cost. It is not cheap and it is not free. Freedom is not free. It must be fought for to achieve and paid for to maintain. There is no free lunch.

From my time working for DOD in both the military and the civilian workforce, my knowledge about the Patriot and the Meads and my desire to work in the Meads arena, I believe we are in need of an upgrade in our defense programs and the Meads in the way to go. The experts say the same thing and I believe them. If we are to save money and get the best for our money with new weapons systems, lets go Meads now.

MEADS is a weapon system which uses an open system architecture. This was one of the most important development goals and it had been achieved. So it is in principle possible to integrate different weapon systems (i.e. radars, misiles etc). So it should be possible to make use of the many PAC-2 missiles in the inventory or even the PATRIOT radars.
So MEADS could well be used as the core for a mobile ATBM capability as part of the IBCS the US-Army is looking for.

If MEADS is so open, why did Germany need tens of millions Euros to integrate IRIS-T? Beware of claims, not facts .

Well that is easy. To have an open architecture does not mean that integration comes for free. But Germany insisted from the beginning that this integration needs to be achieved and proven. And so it happened. So the open architecure gives you another option of for operational engagements of the various systems you may already have in your inventory. And the integration costs may be much lower than costs to replace whole systems. The possibility to integrate may also offer to connect different weapon systems in one operational environment by making use of th specific advantages of the different systems. So the main success for Meads was to prove this conceptual new approach.


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