Patriot Harvests Technologies from MEADS

A Patriot Missile operator with the 1-1 Air Defense Artillery, Charley Battery, simulates unlocking the launcher caps during a field training exercise on Kadena Air Base, Japan, in October.

Raytheon hopes to add to the list of countries protected by Patriot missile defense systems as the company begins to harvest technologies from Lockheed Martin's canceled Medium Extended Air Defense System.

More than 200 Patriot fire units are spread across 12 nations, including the U.S. The future of the Patriot program was jeopardized with the joint development program of MEADS, which was supposed to replace Patriot.

However, the U.S. Army decided it couldn't afford MEADS as the program's costs skyrocketed, and in a ironic turn of events, Raytheon is now using MEADS program developments to improve Patriot.

The development of MEADS continued despite fierce scrutiny from Congress. The U.S. has paid $800 million in the past two years even though it has no plans to field the program -- and this in an environment of sequestration and civilian workforce furloughs.

But Defense Department officials suggest the money wasn't wasted and that it made sense to continue the development program in order to eventually harvest technologies to bolster other systems like the Patriot. One such technology is the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement surface-to-air missile.

Raytheon tested the PAC-3 MSE on June 6 at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Officials said the missile achieved the test objectives.

Tim Glaeser, vice president of business development for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, didn't specify any other specific upgrades that Raytheon plans to take from MEADS, although he said the company will continue to review the system.

Glaeser spoke Tuesday at the Paris Air Show about a future for Patriot that will extend with the U.S. Army as far out as 2048. He said that he doesn't expect the missile defense system to look much like it does now 35 years from now, but he said Raytheon is committed to making the upgrades needed to keep the missile defense system relevant.

He said most of the advances for the Patriot will come through software upgrades. In the near term, he expects the Patriot's outer shell to stay the same while the internal electronics improve to support a 360-degree capability with a single sensor.  

Recent advances for Patriot were primarily a function of funding realized by the sale of the system to the UAE in 2008. Before that, the production line for Patriot had laid dormant for ten years. The advances made for the UAE have since spread to the 11 other nations who own Patriot.

Currently, Raytheon is continuing to work to add to its list of countries that own Patriot. Raytheon is in serious talks with Turkey and Qatar. There is also interest from Poland, Glaeser said.

At the same time Raytheon claims to have not lost sight of U.S. requirements. Glaeser said the company recognizes the U.S. Army's need to cut costs and reduce manpower requirements. Raytheon is focused on reducing both, he said.

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