By Dave Berganini
President, MEADS International
The Wisła medium-range air defense program is essential for the security of Poland, both for the air defense protection it will provide and for the enabling technology it will bring to Polish industry. The MEADS team is pleased to again be in direct discussions with the Ministry of National Defense regarding this important program.
John Baird in his article published 25 May in Rzeczpospolita spent much time reviewing and criticizing the MEADS system. We believe the Polish MOD should undertake such a review itself. Once given the facts and proposals provided by each responsible contractor, it can draw its own conclusions. We believe that Poland will benefit from a fair and open competition that includes both the Patriot and MEADS offerings. Misinformation, however, does not help. Many of Mr. Baird’s assertions require closer examination.
First of all, the public deserves to know what system or capability each bidder is actually offering today. For Raytheon, it is important to note that their offer has changed dramatically over just the last few months. Prior to the change of government in Poland, Raytheon was proposing that the Polish MoD fund the development and subsequent procurement of a modernization version of the current Patriot weapon system, coined “Patriot Next Generation” (PNG) by the contractor. In theory, this massive overhaul of Patriot would result in a system that could add essential capabilities not resident in Patriot today but required by Poland such as 360-degree capability, high mobility, open network architecture, and plug-and-play capability. This PNG development program would additionally require the purchase of the current Patriot configuration units as a bridge solution until PNG could be delivered.
However, that has all changed once the actual cost, delivery schedule, and industrial participation was revealed. Recently, the Polish MOD publicly announced that the price for Raytheon’s proposal was significantly higher than the Polish MOD budget could afford, and it would not be possible to reach the required level of national defense before 2030. Like the U.S., Turkey and Germany, Poland chose not to fund the much needed but costly modernization of Patriot.
Given these circumstances, Raytheon, out of necessity is now only proposing current-configuration Patriot units with its latest upgraded software package called Post Development Build – 8 (PDB-8). PDB-8 is not a modernized version of Patriot, but simply its latest required upgrade. By offering the PDB-8 version of Patriot, Raytheon is offering the 40-year-old Patriot system design which they have not sold in Europe during the past 30 years. It fails to meet the basic Polish military requirements for a 360-degree, network-centric, mobile and open-architecture system. It is a sectored, standalone system with a proprietary and closed architecture. Even so, it will still take 3 years to deliver the PDB-8 units and the cost will not be insignificant. In fact, under this recent Patriot proposal, there is a risk that the air defense budget could be entirely spent on these current-generation units while never achieving system requirements to address the current 360-degree threat, not to mention future threats.
By contrast, the open architecture, plug-and-fight MEADS with full 360-degree capability has already been developed and proven. The MEADS program has completed a 10-year $4B development and testing program jointly funded by the U.S., Germany and Italy that culminated in a successful 360-degree dual intercept of a ballistic missile and low-flying cruise missile target that attacked from opposite directions at the same time. This first-of-its-kind demonstration of capabilities proved to the world that this very threatening and real scenario could be defeated by a single AMD system – MEADS. Recently, government delegations and spectators alike had the opportunity to see the entire suite of MEADS equipment up close during the recent ILA Berlin Air Show where it was proudly displayed in the government Bundeswehr pavilion.
Besides this advanced and proven capability, our MEADS proposal to Poland includes a minimum of 40% workshare in the Wisla program for Polish industry, along with an invitation to Polish industry lead PGZ to become an equal partner in the highly successful MEADS International joint venture with Lockheed Martin and MBDA. Plus, as a full partner in MEADS International, Polish industry is guaranteed a share of all future workshare in the very promising global AMD market for MEADS.
Our MEADS team is very proud of our accomplishments and I think rightfully so. We are obviously very happy with Germany’s decision to choose MEADS as the foundation for their future AMD system. We are also energized by the outpouring of additional interest from nations including Turkey and several other NATO allies. We are realistic; we understand that we will need to compete and earn any future business. We welcome the chance to do just that in Poland.