The tri-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program yesterday successfully completed its first flight test today at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., officials said.

The MEADS program is an effort by the United States, Germany and Italy to provide advanced, mobile, 360 degree, air and missile defense coverage.

“The test demonstrated unprecedented over-the-shoulder launch of the MSE missile against a simulated missile attacking from behind,” NATO MEADS Management Agency General Manager Gregory Kee said yesterday in a teleconference. “MEADS demonstrated its ability to engage and defeat a target coming from anywhere using just a single launcher.”

The PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) MEADS Certified Missile Round demonstrated “a unique sideways maneuver” demonstrating the 360 degree capability, Kee said. The MEADS missile executed a planned self-destruct capability at the end of the mission after successfully engaging the simulated threat.  

The MEADS lightweight launcher and battle manager also participated used in the test.

Earlier this month, the National Armaments Directors of Germany, Italy and the United States approved a contract amendment that funds two flight intercept tests of the MEADS at no increase to the original $3.4 billion program ceiling (Defense Daily, Nov. 4).

Kee said, “We absolutely achieved the directives that the National Armaments Directors of the three nations set out to us and defined to us in this demonstration of capablitiesi in this first successful test.”

MEADS International President Dave Berganin said there were primary and secondary objectives. “All quick looks at the data indicate all objectives were satisfied.”

Objectives ranged from the high divert maneuver of the missile out of the launcher to engage a simulated threat behind the launcher, to the launch sequence and time line and other first time events, he said.

The successful flight test is an “important validation for the continuing MEADS development,” Berganini said. “MEADS’ advanced capabilities detect, track and intercept tomorrow’s threats from farther away and without blind spots. The MEADS digital design ensures high reliability and significantly reduced operational and support costs.”

Kee said, “MEADS provides more capability at a lower cost to protect our soldiers against a growing air and missile threat. The MEADS lightweight launcher is one of the most advanced mobile launchers in existence today and was designed to be easily adaptable to a variety of vehicles.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s initial defense-authorization bill for fiscal year 2012, approved June 16, denies the $406 million requested in the President’s budget. The full Senate must still pass a bill. House approved its version of the bill in May (Defense Daily, Nov. 16). 

In 2004, the initial $3.4 billion contract was signed to design and develop the MEADS system. In February, the United States decided to provide no further funds, so the program went back to its original funding level. The MEADS Design and Development contract ends in 2014.

Using its 360-degree defensive capability, the advanced MEADS radars and MSE missile, MEADS defends up to eight times the coverage area with far fewer system assets and significantly reduces demand for deployed personnel and equipment, which reduces demand for airlift.

MEADS International, a multinational joint venture headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is the prime contractor for the MEADS system. Major subcontractors and joint venture partners are MBDA in Italy and MBDA’s LFK in Germany, and Lockheed Martin [LMT] in the United States. Lockheed Martin also produces the PAC-3 MSE missile

The MEADS program management agency NAMEADSMA is located in Huntsville, Ala.