This week former Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications and Global Outreach Mark Pfeifle and other critics renewed their campaign to discredit MEADS. Pfeifle's assertions about MEADS are just wrong.
Previously he opposed a $400-million budget allocation to complete the nine-year MEADS development contract, yet he remains unconcerned about a plan to waste $850 million to develop a new radar for the 40-year-old Patriot (Inside Missile Defense, March 19, 2014). It would give Patriot the 360-degree coverage that the developed MEADS radars already have and the U.S. has paid for once already. The plan also includes $28.4 million for Patriot combat identification enhancements to further mitigate misclassification and fratricide risk, which the advanced MEADS Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe system already does.
More importantly, the $850 million does nothing to address Patriot's recognized deficiencies: lack of mobility, lack of open-architecture network capability, a large logistics tail, and launchers that can only protect a 90-degree wedge.
It's important to note that the MEADS program:
- Will complete design and development on cost. When trinational development ends later this year, costs will match what was agreed in 2004 -- there is no overrun.
- Has been completely successful in all three flight tests, demonstrating the expanded 360-degree protection MEADS offers. All system elements have been tested at White Sands Missile Range.
- Continues with German and Italian support. Neither Germany nor Italy has stepped away from MEADS. They have prudently decided to evaluate how to best apply their substantial investment in MEADS to modernize their air and missile defenses.
- Is the lowest-cost path to improving U.S. air and missile defense capabilities. If the U.S. can afford the high operation and support costs of the aging Patriot system, plus an additional $850 million to redevelop radar capabilities it has already paid for, it can afford MEADS -- O&S cost savings alone will pay for MEADS procurement.
- Makes sense for the future. Poland has retained MEADS among candidates for its Shield of Poland air and missile defense program.
The U.S. has already spent billions of dollars upgrading Patriot systems and still doesn't have the capability the Army seeks to protect our warfighters and allies. Spending millions more on Patriot in challenging economic times doesn't make sense when MEADS has successfully demonstrated these critical system capabilities and they are ready today.