Progress in Campaign to End MEADS | Citizens Against Government Waste

Progress in Campaign to End MEADS

The WasteWatcher

Created in 1995, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is a collaborative missile defense project intended to replace the Patriot Missile system, which has been used by the U.S. and its allies for decades. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S., Germany, and Italy required that the U.S. pony up 58 percent of the development costs, with Germany covering 25 percent and Italy paying 17 percent. The U.S. has already spent $1.9 billion on the design and development phase of MEADS, but the program has been plagued with cost overruns of $2 billion and is 10 years behind schedule.

A March 9, 2010, Washington Post report quoted 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 article also noted that former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics John Young, Jr. believes that MEADS poses a dilemma for the Pentagon, which is attempting to preserve a weapons program that the Army no longer wants, is not fully funded, and has large reported termination costs.

Citing cost overruns and delays, the Obama Administration stated in February that the program would not continue past fiscal year (FY) 2013. The President’s FY 2012 budget funds the design and development phase of the MEADS program through that timeframe at a cost to taxpayers of $804 million, including $406.6 million in FY 2012. As a rationale for the continuation of funding, the executive branch has cited the necessity to fulfill obligations in the MOU.

Fortunately for taxpayers, President Obama has been challenged by Congress on the issue of continued funding for MEADS. The House-passed FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act provides $257.1 million, a figure that was matched by the House version of the FY 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. This amount appears to be designated for the cancellation costs associated with ending MEADS, and is $149.5 million below the administration’s request. The Senate Armed Services Committee went a step further by zeroing out all funding for MEADS in the Senate version of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

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 prudent use of taxpayer money would be to drop MEADS in conjunction with the two countries and instead modernize the Patriot Missile system at far less cost.

MEADS was included in Prime Cuts 2011, a compilation of spending cuts recommendations released by Citizens Against Government Waste on June 8, 2011.

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