Tri-Nation Missile Defense Funded
Boese, Wade, Arms Control Today
Along-delayed effort by the United States, Germany, and Italy to field a joint missile defense system to protect troops on the battlefield picked up momentum Sept. 28 with the announcement of a $3 billion contract to begin design and development.
Intended to counter shorter-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and combat aircraft, the system-the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)-will consist of a mobile launcher that will initially fire the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptor. PAC-3 interceptors, which obliterate their targets through a direct collision, accounted for two of the nine Iraqi missiles reportedly destroyed by Patriot systems during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. (see ACT, November 2003.)
The new contract foresees a nine-year design and development phase with flight-testing beginning in four years. Up to 10 total intercept tests, including some involving multiple targets and interceptors, are planned.
Earlier plans projected MEADS would enter the design and development stage in 1999, but differences among the three partners over splitting costs and sharing technology caused prolonged delays. …