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18 June 2015

MEADS vs PATRIOT - Still Not The End

Germany has made a political decision, i.e. a declaration of intent, for both four new multi-role MKS 180 combat ships; and the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) as the basis for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS), a next-generation network-based tactical air and missile defense system to replace PATRIOT air defense systems initially fielded in the 1980s.

To make one thing clear: This is a declaration of intent, and as we have seen in the recent past, Germany goes from one thing to another in no time at all. EURO HAWK anyone?

Germany has a budget of around €4 billion to buy four new multi-role combat ships and plans to issue a tender open to European firms. The new MKS 180 warships are expected to be delivered from 2023. They are intended to be capable of attacking targets on land and underwater, and providing aerial protection to other vessels in a range of 12 miles. The German government also announced plans to buy MEADS, built by MBDA and Lockheed Martin for around €4 billion.

Officials have hailed MEADS’ open architecture, which would make it easier to add additional sensors/hooters; while making such changes on PATRIOT would require permissions from the US, something that German officials have been keen to avoid with recent procurement following the Merkel government’s run-in with the US over the NSA’s tapping of German ministers. A similar reason has been cited for Germany’s joint development of a new generation surveillance unmanned vehicle with France and Italy rather than an off-the-shelf system from the US.

While Lockheed Martin is fully committed to the success of TLVS, and although PATRIOT won a tightly contested deal in Poland (eight batteries to be delivered by 2025 could be worth up to $7 billion), Raytheon Vice President Tim Glaeser said Germany’s decision had, according to news sources, caused “angst” in the company and insisted that PATRIOT is not completely out of the running. According to Glaeser, Raytheon will continue to support the German government as they consider alternatives before their final contract award [to MEADS] in 2016; proposing a modernisation programme for Germany’s current PATRIOT systems so it is up to date with the latest technology.

Rick Edwards, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control explained that MEADS, "Reflects our continuing commitment to international partnerships and ongoing support for the German government's leadership role in European missile defence."

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen stood by the MEADS decision. "We are not alone with MEADS. We are offering an open system architecture, which other countries are free to join if they want to,” she said at a news conference. "It can protect whole cities. We will need this defence capability in the future.” Glaeser countered later it is still possible that Germany will change its mind between now and when MEADS completes development next year, as the German government said they will continue to modernise PATRIOT.

The MEADS-based TLVS can be used for both national and alliance defence and to protect deployed troops during operations. Special features of the system include 360° coverage, open system architecture and "plug & fight” capability, which allows for the coupling of additional sensors and weapon systems, as well as rapid deployability. With more international sales in mind, Raytheon has invested in active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology to produce a radar that would provide 360° coverage, as well. The US Army is considering the possibility of upgrading its PATRIOT systems with the new radar. The issue is whether it can afford it. The current PATRIOT requires multiple radars to provide all-around coverage, whereas the electronic stare radar does it automatically.

So nothing set in stone as of yet, who knows what the future will bring.

The discussion continues here: http://www.miltechmag.com/2015/07/meads-versus-next-generation-patriot.html

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