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As part of the German government's review of defense modernization spending, the defense ministry says it will forgo the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). In effect, Germany joins the U.S. in wanting to cease its involvement in the program. Italian defense officials had signaled they wanted to continue, but will not be in a position to do so alone.MEADS has been near the termination point before, and always managed to hang on. But the headwind this time is particularly strong and the end may be near for the Lockheed Martin/MBDA effort. Industry officials were hoping a test next month could help change the minds of planners, but that seems increasingly unlikely.The German move is good news for the Pentagon. If it alone were to walk away from MEADS, it would have owed partners large amounts of money to finish off the program. But if all the partners opt out, that would not be the case.The cuts the German defense ministry plans also include a reduction of Eurofighter Typhoons, with the current procurement to be limited to 140 units, 37 fewer than initially planned.The German government also is making good on its threat to curtail helicopter procurements. For instance, 42 NH90 transport helicopters will be cut from the procurement plan, capping the buy at 80 rotorcraft. Additionally, 40 Tiger attack helicopters will be cut, effectively halving the procurement objective.But the fleet of existing aircraft also is being reduced. The Tornado fleet will be reduced to 85 aircraft from 185, and 20 Transalls will also be retired to leave a fleet of 60.The Euro Hawk, recently unveiled publicly in Germany before the first prototype is delivered to the air force next year, would apparently be exempted, with five still to be acquired.Germany also has reduced its A400M buy. Initially the government shaved seven aircraft from its plan to buy 60 airlifters, but parliament has told the military to shed 13 more aircraft and operate only 40 A400Ms. No further adjustments were made in the latest planning move, but the figure of 40 airlifters was confirmed.The German government says it is making the adjustments to free up money that is now locked into legacy programs to enable it to make acquisitions for current needs.Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere met with industry officials this week to discuss the plan. More discussions with industry over the cuts are slated for next month.
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