360-Degree Point of View

Poland’s Rocket Dilemma

September 15, 2015

By Dave Berganini, Rzeczpospolita daily, Sept. 15, 2015

The MEADS system is Patriot Next Generation’s real competitor in the development of Poland’s shield – writes MEADS International president Dave Berganini

In April this year, Raytheon’s Patriot was selected as the basis for Poland’s Wisla medium-range air defense system. In June, Germany announced that MEADS would be the basis for its next-generation Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS) system. Was Raytheon’s vice president John P. Baird offering the truth about MEADS in an August 23rd Rzeczpospolita interview?

USA has not given up on MEADS

John Baird writes that MEADS was abandoned a few years ago by the United States, and despite 10 years and billions of dollars in costs, remains incomplete and no one knows how much more money will be needed to complete it. In reality, approximately 85 percent of the MEADS development scope has been completed. The work that remains is the completion of logistics planning, training materials and software qualification. The program’s technical risk has been mitigated to a minimum.

Germany plans to complete development and to produce and field MEADS-based TLVS units within the contract’s parameters, valued at approx. €4bn. These units, within this cost, will perform the functions that Poland has decided to develop separately in the Wisla and Narew programs.

In February 2011, the US Department of Defense announced that it could not afford to take MEADS into production and pay for Patriot modifications at the same time. However, neither did the US elect to procure Raytheon’s Patriot Next Generation system. The US Army is shifting towards a network-centric approach (similar to Germany) that is focused on networking individual components. It has selected Northrop Grumman’s IBCS battle manager and Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 MSE missiles.

A US Army Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), which began in early 2015, will determine the radars and launcher to be selected for the US air defense system. The MEADS launcher is considered a very likely choice, while the radar will likely be selected in 2018.

MEADS has been tested

When comparing the number of tests, it is important to note that MEADS has received more government design and development oversight than any air and missile defense system in US history. Implementing design and performance requirements established by three governments, MEADS underwent 47 separate Critical Design Review events while satisfying all 1100 defined exit criteria.

The situation was similar in the case of MEADS flight tests. In addition to US government representatives, four other national delegations, including Poland, witnessed the flight tests of the US-German-Italian MEADS. Over 80 national representatives attended the unprecedented 360-degree dual-intercept test in November 2013.

Every aspect of the MEADS flight test program was executed in response to the needs of and under oversight of program and project offices of the US Army, which, among others, on that basis made an initial production decision for PAC-3 MSE.

Meanwhile, Patriot Next Generation, which Raytheon has offered Poland, has not undergone any flight tests. It has yet to move beyond the prototype phase into integration, qualification and flight testing. Unlike MEADS, all of the financial, technical and schedule risks still lie ahead.

Raytheon’s vice president wrote that if MEADS does not meet certain technological and timing criteria over the next few years, the German government will return to talks regarding the modernization of its current Patriot units. I would like to reiterate that Germany’s decision was made following an extensive military evaluation and independent audit commissioned by the Minister of Defense, as well as 25 years of direct operating experience with the Patriot air defense system.

According to John Baird, the US continues to annually cover the required $1bn per year for the Patriot system’s modifications, not counting the operational and maintenance costs. Other Patriot users are contributing $500m more every year to address operational issues. Yet, in spite of this funding, Patriot retains a proprietary closed architecture and remains a sectored and immobile system, and is increasingly ill-suited for the challenges of evolving warfare. Modernizing the system to a fully digital architecture would take 10-12 years and additional billions, but even then it would not meet operational imperatives for 360-degree defense and strategic and tactical mobility. It was these limitations that were behind Germany’s selection of MEADS.

Is GaN-based radar better?

In the article there are also arguments for GaN radar technology. Updating Patriot’s radar design is essential because it is still based on 40-year-old vacuum-tube technology. The promise of GaN technology includes higher performance and greater reliability, but does nothing to address identified design shortcomings. It does not provide 360-degree protection against all threats. It also does not improve target tracking or acquisition performance.

The MEADS system’s MFCR (multi-function fire control radar) radar remains the most effective air and missile defense radar in the world – the only radar that fully meets the requirements needed to defend against today’s and tomorrow’s threats.

The 360-degree MEADS radar took 10 years to develop under financing from government contracts. Raytheon wants Poland to provide the funds for the development, integration and testing of its radar, because it has no funding for it from the US government. In return, the company offers no ownership benefits of the new system. It is completely unlike the MEADS model in which the investments of German and Italian governments resulted in genuine co-ownership of the technology. Poland, if it wants to, could have exactly the same status. The truth about MEADS and Patriot is therefore different from what Baird wrote, and readers of “Rzeczpospolita” should be able to form their own opinion based on facts.

What Others are Saying

Poland need not be defended by Patriots

August 17, 2015

Interview with Business Development Director Marty Coyne in Rzeczpospolita, 6 August 2015


Rz: Did the US decide to use the Patriot missile defense system from Raytheon, or the one developed by Lockheed Martin MEADS?

Marty Coyne: Washington’s initial plans were to replace the Patriot system with MEADS. However, budget constraints changed this. Several years ago the general consensus was reached that there were not enough financial resources to maintain large sets of Patriots, and develop MEADS at the same time. Nevertheless, the US government clearly stated that they would return to this issue in the future. In this context, Germany’s recent decision to use MEADS as their missile defense system is crucial. Germany, like the United States and Italy, were founder countries of our consortium, and funded partly the cost of developing this new technology. After Berlin’s decision we have a clear perspective to start producing antimissile batteries, as well as to provide our system to other countries, hopefully, including Poland.

How’s that, has not the Polish government already decided to purchase the Raytheon Patriot system?

We understand Poland has decided to only buy two batteries of Patriots in the current configuration. The decision on the remaining six is still to be made. The Polish Ministry of Defense (MON) has only said they will conduct negotiations with the American government on the next-generation system. But this absolutely does not exclude choosing our system, or its individual components, since our leading shareholder is Lockheed Martin, an American company. Our offer is ideally suited to Polish expectations.

What are these expectations? The greatest threat to Polish security is Russia.

The MEADS system has been jointly developed by the US, Germany, and Italy. An extremely efficient technology was developed which addresses the threats faced by Poland. No other system, including current Patriots, has a radar which allows threats to be recognized in a 360-degree radius. This makes our missile batteries able to neutralize all missile attacks coming from different angles, including high-altitude ballistic missiles, as well as low-flying cruise missiles. MEADS obviously can also stop Russian Iskanders. The system is successful not only due to its surveillance capabilities, but also the most-advanced hit-to-kill missile technology.

Is the Patriot system capable of defending Polish borders against Russia?

That system, like MEADS, uses PAC-3 missiles. But our biggest difference is the radar, and its ability to identify threats coming from all directions. This makes our system effectively drive away a potential aggressor from an attack. An aggressor knows his assault may be ineffective, and runs the risk of response. This is why Poland needs such a system right now, and not in ten years, which is when the new version of Patriot Next Generation will be ready.

Why has Raytheon built a system which is not effective against Iskander missiles?

Let me put it differently. The Patriot system in its current version is very effective today. But it was developed 40 years ago to counter different types of threats. It remains the foundation of US defense, but each battery provides protection only to a section of the battlefield, because such are the parameters of its radar. Meanwhile, no country, including the US, has the resources to quadruple the number of batteries, and therefore costs, to provide protection against a missile attack. This is why Raytheon wants to build a new generation of the Patriot system.

The development of this new technology is to be financed by Poland?

One thing is certain: the Patriot system needs modernization, and someone has to pay. Germany, like Turkey, said they will not finance it. Moreover, the US government has already decided to move from a solution based solely on the Patriot system to a program which includes various systems. It was also decided to build a battlefield management system (“the battle manager”) which is network-centric, and will be developed not by Raytheon, but by the Northrop Grumman company. The US wants also to rely more on 360-degree coverage radars and missile launchers working with them. Lockheed Martin has a great chance to win these tenders. When it comes to costs, developing a new generation of Patriots will require a lot of time and money. Whereas MEADS, which is a state-of-the-art system, is already funded by Germany, US, and Italy. It took us ten years, and cost $4 billion. We have 10–15 percent work left, and Germany will finish it. If Poland would reconsider our offer, you could benefit from all this. Besides, it is highly doubtful the Patriot Next Generation system will be ready before 2024, and if Poland will not need to pay for at least a part, if not all, of the cost of its development.

Poland has not had the best experience with offset after the purchase of F-16 fighters. How do we know this will not happen again?

MEADS is a consortium of companies from three countries: Germany, the US, and Italy, in which each state shares costs, and has access to all the technologies. This is why Germany, spending $1 billion to develop new technology, i.e. 25 percent of the total cost, has access to 100 percent of technological solutions. In our Polish offer for the Wisła program, we have used for the same mechanism, in which Poland would have the same share of 33 percent in the new consortium as Lockheed Martin and MBDA.

Maybe this is why the US government supported Raytheon, and its old-generation Patriots more? The US does not like to share their technology with others.

Absolutely not. When MEADS presented its offer to the Polish government in 2014, the US government supported equally both Raytheon, as well as Lockheed Martin. For example, the US agreed for PAC-3 missiles to be produced in Poland, but only within the MEADS offer. This was the only exception worldwide, excluding the Japan agreement. However, on 30th June 2014, MON changed the criteria of the tender in such a way, that the only acceptable equipment was that fielded by NATO countries. That eliminated us automatically. But after the German government’s decision to go with the MEADS system, we meet the condition of the Polish authorities, because MEADS will be used by a NATO country.

Why did MON present such a condition?

Due to the threat from the East, Poland could not wait, and wanted to rely on a “bridge” system, which was already in use. However these two Patriot batteries will be active in three–four years — the same time it would take us to provide Poland with our much more advanced system.

Poland counted on permanent NATO bases, but most likely they will not be created. If Poland had MEADS, would we be, at least temporarily, able to defend ourselves against Russia?

Missile defense systems are very expensive, in the last 40 years only four countries have purchased Patriots in Western Europe: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Greece. This is why the Polish system needs to be based on a common, open architecture, with components working closely together. In this way, in the event of an attack, Poland could be defended not only by itself but also the NATO umbrella. In a few hours Germany could move to move Poland some of its eight–ten MEADS batteries. The same could be done by other Polish allies.

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