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Army Likely To Restore Cuts For Tri-National MEADS Funding, Official Says

By | March 19, 2007

      Potential budget cuts for the next two years in the United States portion of funding for the U.S., German and Italian-funded Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) air defense missile system are likely to be restored, according to a corporate official.

      The controversy centers on the fiscal years ending Sept. 30, 2008 and 2009.

      “We understand the Army has fixed ’09 funding and committed to fix ’08 funding,” Jim Cravens, president of MEADS International (MI), which leads the development effort said during a teleconference.

      Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT], along with Germany’s Lenkflugkorpersysteme and MBDA Italia, make up the joint venture.

      MI learned last week that Claude Bolton, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, “in official correspondence with Mr. Krieg [Kenneth Krieg, Pentagon acquisition chief], committed that the U.S. Army will restore funding to the MEADS program and the current MEADS schedule will remain unchanged,” Cravens said.

      This would allow the program to stay on track and deliver as required to all three nations, he added.

      The total amount of the cuts was actually in the $45 million range, not the $250 million or less initially suggested. The cuts ran approximately $24 million in 2008, and around $22 million in 2009.

      After originally learning of the cuts, and working with the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA)–which oversees the program for the three governments–and U.S. government officials, Cravens said the cuts were in three specific areas: the exciter for the multi-function fire control radar, some simulation models that help evaluate performance for the entire system, and missile segment enhancement tooling.

      MEADS is a next-generation mobile air defense and missile defense system to protect future maneuver forces. The three partner nations plan to operate the system starting in the next decade. MEADS will be able to provide 360-degree coverage, unlike current systems.

      In May 2005, MI signed the defined $2 billion, 1.4 billion Euro contract to design and develop MEADS (Defense Daily, June 2, 2005).

      Most program efforts this year are dedicated to preliminary design review (PDR) events, Cravens said. The incremental system level PDR will begin June 23 and conclude during the last week of October.

      About 100 people from all three nations gathered at MI in Orlando, Fla., for a semi-annual integrated program review (IPR). The program update is contractually required every six months, Cravens said. Discussions were slated to cover what’s been done since the previous review, the path forward, finances, technology and other issues.

      “The program is on schedule and within cost,” Cravens said. “We’re very proud of that.”

      While there are some challenges, nothing is unexpected at this stage of design and development and there’s nothing that’s a “show stopper,” ahead of the various levels of PDR, he said. Additionally, the customer also knows what those issues are.

      Some tech issues revolve around the requirement that major end items, such as the battle manager, multifunction fire control radar and launcher roll on and off aircraft on their prime movers. The program is looking at the engineering trades now, and will weigh the options.

      IPR attendees are likely to be interested in the status of a recent suggestion MI made to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Army that a lot of the functionality in the MEADS battle manager “that can serve as a good backbone for the Army’s IBCS (Integrated Battle Command System) common TOC [tactical operations center], and by doing so you don’t have to pay for TOCs twice,” Cravens said.

      “The U.S. Army is already funding 58 cents on the dollar for the MEADS battle manager, and secondly, it maintains commonality between the United States and Germany and Italy with regard to the battle management capability,” he added.

      The Army intends to take a system of systems approach and be able to fight any sensor any shooter in an integrated fire control network with a common tactical operations center (TOC)–an Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS).

      MI worked with the Army office last year to accelerate the battle manager, and at one time the launcher as well, to integrate them in the existing Patriot system in the U.S. Army so it would provide an enhanced capability before the entire MEADS system is fielded in 2014-15.

      The launcher was removed from the effort last year and efforts focused on accelerating the MEADS battle manager, and working with the IAMD office as to what they wanted in terms of a battle manager.

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