CAGW's Spending Cut Alert: Medium Extended Air Defense System

For Immediate Release
February 24, 2011

 

Contact:  Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334 Luke Gelber 202-467-5318

CAGW's Spending Cut Alert: Medium Extended Air Defense System

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) issued its weekly spending cut alert aimed at eliminating the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). MEADS is a collaborative transatlantic missile defense project. Created in 1995, its purpose was to replace the Patriot Missile system, which has been used by the United States and its allies for decades. MEADS was intended, among other things, to be more mobile on the battlefield. The international agreement required that the United States pony up 58 percent of the development costs, with Germany covering 25 percent and Italy paying 17 percent. The United States has already spent $1.5 billion on the design and development phase of MEADS, but the program has been plagued with total program cost overruns of $2 billion and is ten years behind schedule.

A March 9, 2010 Washington Post report quotes an internal U.S. Army memo asserting that the program “will not meet U.S. requirements or address the current and emerging threat without extensive and costly modifications.” The Army wanted the program cancelled but the Pentagon was reluctant to scrap it because unilateral withdrawal would result in termination fees of between $550 million and $1 billion. The Post article quoted former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics John J. Young, Jr. saying that MEADS posed a significant dilemma for the Pentagon, which is attempting to preserve a weapons program the Army no longer wants, that is not fully funded, and that has large potential terminations costs, but which the government has an international obligation to complete. He said “I just think it’s a tall order to make the program hang together…I just don’t know if there’s a solution set in the middle of all that. Without a plan that all parties support, it is a bad use of taxpayer dollars.”

President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget funds the design and development phase of the MEADS program through 2013 at a cost to taxpayers of another $804 million. The Merkel administration in Germany is now under intense pressure to withdraw from the project and the Italian government has also signaled desire to terminate its involvement. The most reasonable use of scarce defense dollars would be to drop MEADS and instead modernize the Patriot Missile system at far less cost.

“MEADS is another Pentagon boondoggle which is draining the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers’ pockets,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “The Defense Department cannot be held harmless in the effort to cut wasteful spending. The administration should initiate negotiations with the other two partners to map out an exit strategy now and stop throwing good money after bad,” Schatz concluded.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government. The Spending Cut of the Week calls attention to a federal program that is wasteful or duplicative.

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