Ed Note: Dave Berganani is the President of MEADS International. This is his response to the editorial that Dean G. Popps, the former Army acquisition executive and acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology, wrote for DoDBuzz on Dec. 1.
It’s important to note that Patriot has cost more than MEADS over the past decade, and despite modifications and upgrades, also cannot meet Army requirements. The mission is changing, and so are threats in the hands of determined adversaries.
So the need to replace Patriot remains, and Germany, Italy, and the U.S. now need an air and missile defense system that is networked, highly mobile, light enough to airlift, with advanced radars and launchers than can defend troops and civilians on all sides, not just in front. Despite its costly modifications, Patriot is no closer to these objectives than it was when its development began over 40 years ago.
That’s why the recent unprecedented 360-degree dual-intercept test of the entire MEADS system is so important. No other air and missile defense system can do what the mature MEADS radars and launchers have demonstrated. There are no alternatives in the U.S. arsenal, and full-perimeter protection is already needed. Note that the 9-year MEADS development program has cost the U.S. less than Patriot modernization programs during the same period, and because of MEADS, the Army now has a demonstrated, affordable solution to its 21st century mission needs.
For example, the U.S. can integrate MEADS plug-and-fight fire control and surveillance radars and launchers with future networks in any quantity, but with immediate impact on range, versatility, and lethality. They offer capability to custom match Army resources to mission needs – less cost, but more punch. Quickly.
In addition to mission performance, cost remains a critical factor. MEADS has been specifically designed to cost less to operate and maintain than Patriot. It uses 2/3 the manpower of Patriot, and fewer MEADS systems using fewer vehicles provide 8 times the coverage. MEADS takes fewer aircraft to deploy. Its modern electronic designs are more reliable. MEADS does more and costs less.
Based on manpower savings alone, replacing Patriot with MEADS could save enough money in the next 25 years to procure MEADS. Twice.
Remarkably, U.S. developmental programs terminated for convenience in the past few decades total more than $46B, according to the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment. The successful MEADS program should not be added to this list. The technology is right, the need is urgent, the costs are lower, and the Soldier of 2020 deserves something better than Cold War defenses.