March 15, 2010: The U.S. Army wants out of an international effort to develop MEADS ((Medium Extended Air Defense System). But the Department of Defense refuses to allow that, because cancellation penalties would cost more, it is currently believed, than it would to complete the project. This problem is nothing new for the $19 billion effort, which plans to conduct its first flight tests next year. Work on MEADS began in the late 1990s. It was supposed to enter service in 2014, but now the date is 2018. Maybe.
Eight years ago, a multinational effort to replace the Patriot air defense system had reached a crises, with cost overruns and technical difficulties threatening to scuttle MEADS. This is a joint effort by Germany (paying for 25 percent of development), Italy (17 percent) and the United States (58 percent.) France was also once a partner, but withdrew as the problems mounted. The U.S. government wants the program continued to avoid offending Germany and Italy.
MEADS uses the existing Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile missile (range of 20 kilometers), and the long range IRIS-T air-to-air missile (range of 30 kilometers) for attacking aircraft. MEADS is mobile, carried around in five ton trucks.