By Dave Berganini
President, MEADS International
In a Fakt magazine article on 21 July, Raytheon Director Joe DeAntona challenged retired Lieutenant General Howard B. Bromberg’s concerns about the Patriot Missile System. While it is clear that we have different views regarding which system is best for Poland’s Wisła medium-range air defense program, this article included bold exaggerations and misinformation that cannot be left unchallenged.
Fundamentally, Patriot is an old system and MEADS is not. Networked 360-degree MEADS is flight-tested and proven, while the promised Patriot Next Gen does not yet exist. Poland’s critical decision balances on whether these differences are important or not.
DeAntona Statement: MEADS has yet to be designed, produced and tested.
Fact – To be clear, MEADS represents ten years of development, with production of two systems and three successful flight tests in a program managed by a NATO agency and approved by three nations. MEADS has now been selected by Germany, NATO’s Framework Nation for European air and missile defense. In a 2013 flight test, witnessed by a visiting delegation of Polish military leaders, MEADS destroyed targets in two different directions, something that Patriot cannot do.
Patriot needs substantial investment to address today’s threats, including highly maneuverable cruise missiles and drones. Just this month, Israel’s GEM-2 Patriots not only missed a target – twice – but malfunctioned while the drone returned safely to Syria. Poland should be concerned about this because it faces a far more sophisticated threat.
DeAntona Statement: Patriot is designed in such way that new technologies can be introduced constantly, to face the current threats. Today’s Patriot is based on the foundation of more than 2500 ground tests, 1400 flight tests, countless operational missions and dozens of intercepted missiles.
Fact – Patriot has been updated within the limits of its architecture for decades, but its basic limitations are unchanged. There are four things to know about Patriot – it’s old, it shoots in one direction, it’s hard to move, and you have to buy a whole system to shoot a single missile. 15 years ago, the program executive for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command discussed the difficulty of deploying Patriot and said, “We have a smaller missile (PAC-3). But we still have a very large launcher. Our control vans are still oversized. There is not a lot we can do about the radar to make it smaller.” Fifteen years later, despite billions of dollars in improvements, Patriot’s fundamental limitations remain.
DeAntona Statement: The MEADS project, developed under the German management…was devised in 1980s, designed in 1990s and partly developed in early 21st century. It has not been through a single government-supervised flight test.
Fact – Anyone with the Internet knows that MEADS was jointly developed by the US, Germany and Italy beginning in 2004 and it was successfully flight tested in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In fact, two of the MEADS flight tests were scored Army tests for fielding of PAC-3 MSE. A visiting delegation of Polish military leaders attended the 2013 test. MEADS works, and its development risks are solved. Not so for Patriot Next Gen.
DeAntona Statement: Moreover, the MEADS project has not been upgraded. Like a Jurassic insect trapped in amber, MEADS is a relic of a distant past – technology deemed as most advanced in mid-1990s.
Fact – MEADS needs no upgrade. It was created to replace Patriot and addresses Patriot’s limitations. MEADS uses 21st century technologies: hit-to-kill, AESA radars, wireless secure communication, network protocol, open architecture, plug-and-fight, and sweeping improvements in reliability. If this is Jurassic, now how old is Patriot?
DeAntona Statement: The first phase will include the most advanced Patriot system that is currently fielded in the Armed Forces, and the first battery will be delivered within 24 months since signing the contract. This is something that MEADS is simply unable to do.
Fact – It is clear that these initial Patriot systems will need to be substantially modified. Polish leaders should ask The Netherlands why it will take more than four years for Raytheon to make modest updates to their three existing Patriot systems and how many euro it will cost. Further, it has been 30+ years since any NATO country bought Patriot and recently Turkey and Germany said no.
DeAntona Statement: Over the course of the next phases, the Polish industry and Raytheon will develop system’s modernization, which among others will enable threat engagement in the range of 360 degrees. Raytheon will provide that capability within 65 months since signing the contract – many years before MEADS will be delivered to the German Army, and this according to the most optimistic supporters of the system.
Fact – Logic says that a developed system can always be delivered before one that does not exist. Because the MEADS 360-degree design has already been developed and approved by three nations, built, and repeatedly tested, the cost and risk of development is fully behind. Development has yet to begin for Patriot Next Gen, and only a radar mockup has been shown.
DeAntona Statement: On July 4th PGZ and Raytheon have announced signing a new Letter of Intent between the two companies. The letter envisages that PGZ will become one of Raytheon’s global partners
Fact – We believe that Poland has much greater aspirations than to be a supplier of parts for a 50 year old system.
That is why MEADS International’s offer is more about partnership than parts. Our model is founded on shared technology and a record of cooperative success involving Lockheed Martin, MBDA and three national governments. The opportunity remains for Polish Industry to join the consortium and to benefit from the $4 billion technology development in MEADS, and from an ownership share in all future sales of MEADS and its network-ready components. As a partner, Poland will have full transparency, an equal voice in decisions, and respectful workshare that supports a strong industrial base.
After 50 years of Patriot, future security demands that we let it go. All that really needs to be said is that the US is moving away from Patriot in favor of a networked system made by another company.