TPA Investigates: Missile Program Needs More Scrutiny and Less Money
The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) has been a hot topic of conversation at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. MEADS, which was originally conceived as the replacement to the Patriot missile system, is being jointly built by the United States, Italy, and Germany with the Americans shouldering more than 50 percent of the cost. Even though the Army doesn’t want the project, there was an additional $800 million allocated for the project through 2013.
Taxpayer groups have expressed their opposition to funding the program over the past years. On October 3, 2011, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) held a briefing where MEADS was discussed as a primary program to be cut as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Super Committee) looks for cuts. Now, it appears that there will be “test” of MEADS on November 17, a day before the federal government runs out of money and less than a week before the Super Committee presents its deficit reduction plan. TPA is concerned that this test (which is really more of a demonstration than a test) is nothing more than a dog and pony show to boost the funding of the program and keep it off the chopping block. In addition, there are many technical questions that need to be asked to verify the validity of this test such as: will the missile be trying to hit a target; If the point of the test is to show that MEADS can protect against threats from any direction (360 degrees), how will firing a single missile accomplish that; and who will be attending the test? It is also unclear which components of the system will be tested and whether or not there will be independent oversight of the testing and the objectives that the test is intended to accomplish.
To get to the bottom of this, TPA contacted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medium Extended Air Defense System Management Agency (NAMEADSMA), the Army, and MEADS International. The only entity to respond to TPA was NAMEADSMA which responded with unsatisfactory answers:
A driving force behind continued funding has been the international commitments from Germany and Italy, but it seems as if that support is now waning. Germany has admitted that it only supports the development of the program and is not interested in procuring any missiles. Italy is now the driving force behind the program, which could also be problematic. According to Bloomberg news, “U.K. stocks declined for a second day as investors weighed the possibility of a change of government in Greece and Italy, Europe’s most-indebted countries.” It may be just a matter of time before Italy runs out of money for the program.
This test, and these questions, come on the heels of a program that is losing its relevancy in the Pentagon and as a way to protect our troops. The testing of MEADS next week appears to be nothing more than a dog and pony show designed more to impress congressional appropriators rather than a true military test. Taxpayers and our fighting troops deserve more than funding a program that won’t protect the nation.
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