June 18, 2013
Credit: Lockheed Martin
The Lockheed Martin-led consortium developing the Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) is requesting approval from Italy, Germany and the United States—the program’s three partners—to expand the scope of the second and final flight test for the system.
Originally, this trial was slated to pit Meads only against a theater ballistic missile (TBM) threat. Meads intercepted an air-breathing target during its first flight test late last year.
To better showcase the capabilities of Meads, though, the team hopes to conduct a “dual-launch” scenario in which an air-breathing cruise missile and a TBM would be flown against the system nearly simultaneously and 120-deg. apart.
This is intended to tax the Meads surveillance and fire control radars, which are designed to provide 360-deg. of coverage against a classified number of threats simultaneously. Ideally, the test will include a single fire control unit and two launchers—the addition of the second launcher is intended to add further complexity to the demonstration as well.
“We think we are mature enough to demonstrate this in our very second intercept test,” said Marty Coyne, the top Meads business development executive for Lockheed Martin.
Owing to a funding shortage, the Meads development program was limited to $3.4 billion for completion and trimmed from seven flight tests to two, so Meads officials are hoping to maximize the next and final test as much as possible.
The United States has agreed to complete development—and Congress appears poised to provide the final $380 million needed to do so—but pulled out of the production program that would follow. In the development partnership, Washington contributed 58% of the funding, with Germany offering 25% and Italy the remaining 17%.
Italy and Germany are now in talks to continue development and begin low-rate production under what they call the European Follow-on Program (EFOP). The pair is expected to move forward with EFOP while soliciting partners in parallel to join in a full-rate production program to follow. Formal talks to lay out an EFOP plan are expected this fall at the latest, Coyne says.
Poland is a strong candidate for production, according to Italian defense officials.