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US May Come Back to MEADS

Lockheed Martin believes there is a good chance the US will recommit to the tri-nation MEADS missile defense program, driven by its smaller manpower requirements, ease of transport and higher reliability. And Germany and Italian officials told a senior Lockheed official that they remain committed to MEADS and other countries may well join the program sometime in the next two years.

Mike Trotsky, Lockheed's vice president air and missile defense systems, told reporters during AIAA's annual missile defense conference that adding more countries could substantially lower the price of American participation. He said he expected the other countries to begin receiving detailed classified briefings – a crucial step while a country considers its interest in a foreign program -- on MEADS “later on this year.” Currently the US provides 55 percent of MEADS funding, joined by the other two countries, Germany and Italy.

Trostky said he met last week with Germany’s armaments director and its most senior Air Force general. They reaffirmed their country’s commitment to MEADS. And he said he believed the US might come back to the program in two years. “The requirement is not going to go away,” he said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Army decided  that the service would not participate in MEADS after it went through its current phase. The decision was made public when the 2012 budget was unveiled in mid-February. Also, the US continues funding MEADS to avoid what could be termination costs as high as $1 billion. A source familiar with the program said the number was closer to $800 million, roughly what the US will spend on the program voer the next two years.

Trotsky went on to tout MEADS’ reliability and lower personnel costs. “It’s much more reliable” than Patriot and uses a more modern radar. He said it was 8 to 10 times more reliable. And the Army will also be attracted to MEADS because it requires significantly fewer solders to operate and maintain.

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