The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) will wrap up its test program this year by demonstrating its ability to intercept two theater ballistic missiles simultaneously, 120 degrees apart, officials said on Wednesday at the Paris Air Show.
Managers of the Lockheed Martin-led, tri-nation program decided to double the incoming threats in the test as MEADS’ truncated development phase comes to an end following the US decision not to acquire it.
After a battle in Congress over funding, lawmakers agreed on March 26 to approve $380 million in funding for the completion of development in 2013, albeit with test firings reduced.
A first test firing at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in November saw the system intercept one air-breathing missile.
Gregory Kee, general manager of the the NATO MEADS management agency, said at the Paris Air Show that following the end of development, Germany and Italy — which have partnered with the US on the program — would receive a “minimum engagement capability,” consisting of a fire control radar, launcher and battle management system.
Italy’s procurement chief, Gen. Claudio Debertolis, has suggested Italy’s launcher could be deployed in Italy.
Since the US decided not to acquire the system, numerous countries, including Poland and Japan, have expressed interest in buying it, said Marty Coyne, business development director for MEADS International.
A US Army team is studying the program to see what technology can be used in the US Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, Coyne said.
The US Army has set up a MEADS harvesting team that visited Orlando for two days this year, he said, and is due to issue a preliminary report before producing a final report after the final test intercepts.
Coyne said the MEADS concept of lightweight missile defense is well suited to the US military’s increased focus on Pacific deployments. Kee said MEADS’ open architecture would facilitate the integration of its technologies.