(MI President Dave Berganini recently responded to an article in the Washington Examiner that accused MEADS of being a paper system. It appears at http://washingtonexaminer.com/meads-is-a-very-real-option-for-missile-defense/article/2548350 )
In his Washington Examiner article of 6 May (Now Is No Time for the U.S. to be a Missile Defense Paper Tiger), John Hulsman spends a lot of time worrying about a system he says does not exist. His assertions are just plain wrong. MEADS is very real, and defense leaders in the U.S., Germany and Poland – those looking at the data – know it.
As Airbus CEO Thomas Enders commented at the Atlantic Council last month, MEADS is “a great air defense system. Really high-end, with 360-degree capability, the only system on the planet that can shoot down missiles that come from completely different trajectories. One from the front, one from behind – and has proven it.” The facts show that MEADS, developed to replace Patriot in the U.S. and Germany, has completed three successful flight tests, including the first-ever dual intercept of ballistic missile and air-breathing targets last November. That’s very good performance for a paper system. It’s also performance that Patriot can’t match.
Nor has the German government decided on a course of action. It is continuing a study to ensure that its future air and missile defense (AMD) capability requirements can be met in the most effective and affordable manner. While both Patriot and MEADS are under review for the future German AMD requirement, MEADS is the only system that fully addresses Germany’s stated requirements. Later this month, a very real, very tested MEADS launcher and battle manager will be on display at the ILA Berlin Air Show so that German officials can clearly recognize the differences.
The stakes are high. New answers are needed for the Iskander (SS-26 Stone) tactical ballistic missile, which is said to maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories, and turns to avoid intercept. New answers are needed as well for proliferating cruise missiles and unmanned systems that can attack from any direction. By contrast, the heavy, sectored Patriot system is not a modern missile defense solution. In fact, earlier this year, Patriot was defeated in Turkey against French and Chinese competitors.
Germany recognizes the problem. Over the past five years, they’ve sold Patriot systems to South Korea and offered others to Poland. Now, no one should criticize the long look they’ve chosen to take about the future.
In Poland, to its credit, the U.S. government is supporting offers for both Patriot and MEADS in the Shield of Poland procurement. They want the Poles to select a U.S. technology system that best fits their needs and will support either system going forward.
What’s ironic is that a new design, an undeveloped Next-Gen Patriot concept, was presented to the Polish press in March. It’s interesting that the new Patriot happens to include an advanced 360-degree radar, open architecture, and multifunctional capabilities that only MEADS has demonstrated. The Next-Gen Patriot concept is the true paper tiger here. Many Next-Gen Patriot developments, and their development price tag, have also been offered in Germany with unenthusiastic response.
That’s why Dr. Hulsman can’t just wish MEADS away. Especially when it’s more mature and proven than the paper-Patriot offers in Germany and Poland.
David F. Berganini, Jr.