The tri-national German, Italian and United States’ Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) on Nov. 6 intercepted and destroyed two simultaneous targets attacking from opposite directions during a stressing demonstration of its 360-degree air and missile defense (AMD) capabilities at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
MEADS is a next-generation, ground-mobile AMD system that incorporates 360-degree radars, netted and distributed battle management, easily transportable launchers and the hit-to-kill PAC-3 MSE Missile.
MEADS FT 2 achieved all criteria for success. All system elements worked as planned.
“The test was a historic event…a great demonstration of transatlantic cooperation as well as demonstration of future air defense capabilities for NATO,” said Gregory Kee, NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) general manager, in a teleconference after the test.
Marty Coyne, Lockheed Martin Air and Missile Defense Business Development director, said the successful test marks the goal of the MEADS design and development program signed in 2004 to develop the next generation, lightweight and network centric air defense system. And it was achieved within the cost ceiling and “not a penny more” was spent than agreed to at that time.
The United States fulfilled its commitment in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, though it will not proceed with production of the system, he said.
The result of the effort in MEADS, Coyne said, lays the foundation for all three of the partner nations and any other as they move forward with their air and missile defense plans.
Kee said next year, there will be a complete system demonstration to complete the program. To be conducted in Europe, the demonstration will show interoperability capabilities at a higher level. For example, the demonstration will show the ability to engage on remote and how to integrate another sensor–such as a radar–into the system.
Since the United States is not planning to produce the MEADS system, it is interested in harvesting and leveraging its investment.
A recent interim U.S. report has been discussed with the other partner nations, Kee said. The report rated equipment and the system and components at very mature Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 6 and 7.
On the industry side, Coyne said the interest in harvesting MEADS capability, leveraging that $2.5 billion investment, is growing, and they’re seeing increased interest by the U.S. Army. Some components are expected to receive further scrutiny, particularly the two MEADS radars and launcher. The data gathered by the Nov. 6 test will be make available to all the partner nations as they move into forward planning.
The test was viewed by representatives from all three nations as well as a senior delegation from Poland, which is considering a new air defense system.
The test was key for the Proof of Concept, designed and approved to show the system fully meets the capabilities agreed by the tri-national program partners in 2011.
All elements of the MEADS system were tested, including the 360-degree MEADS Surveillance Radar, a networked MEADS battle manager, two lightweight launchers firing PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missiles and a 360-degree MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR).
The first target, a QF-4 air-breathing target, approached from the south as a Lance missile, flying a tactical ballistic missile trajectory, attacked from the north. The Surveillance Radar acquired both targets and provided target cues to the MEADS battle manager, which generated cue commands for the MFCR. The MFCR tracked both targets successfully and guided missiles from launchers in the Italian and German configuration to successful intercepts.
“Today’s successful flight test is the culmination of three countries working together to design, develop and build the most advanced and capable air and missile defense weapon system in the world,” Kee said.
“No fielded groundâ€mobile AMD System can intercept targets from two directions at the same time, as MEADS did today,” he said. “MEADS technology can now be leveraged as mature, network-ready battle management, sensors and launchers to achieve the networked AMD capabilities envisioned by Germany, Italy and the United States.”
The test demonstrated over-the-shoulder maneuverability of the PAC-3 MSE Missile in engaging the targets.
“Based on the maturity of the MEADS hardware and software, we asked our customer to expand this test to a dual intercept,” said MEADS International President Dave Berganini. “The MEADS program continues to meet or exceed its commitments. Earlier this year, MEADS successfully demonstrated radar cueing, interoperability with networked NATO systems during Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW) and certification of our Mode 5 IFF system. Now we’re thrilled to demonstrate an unprecedented dual-intercept that has met test objectives and readies MEADS for further development and testing in Europe.”
The MEADS program is 3-for-3 in achieving flight test objectives.
In November 2011, MEADS performed a simulated intercept of an air-breathing target.
In November 2012, MEADS acquired, tracked and destroyed an MQM-107 target. Both tests demonstrated full-perimeter, 360-degree defense with the PAC-3 MSE Missile performing unique over-the-shoulder maneuvers to defeat targets attacking from behind the MEADS emplacement.
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 Germany, and Lockheed Martin [LMT] in the United States.
The MEADS program management agency NAMEADSMA is in Huntsville, Ala.