Missile System Should be First Program Thrown off Fiscal Cliff

David Williams

December 4, 2012

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is struggling to remain relevant and alive as Congress looks at real spending cuts to avoid the fiscal cliff.   The Taxpayers Protection Alliance explained in a recent blog post that, “MEADS has rightly earned the moniker the ‘”Missile to Nowhere.’” And, according to a December 4, 2012 Politico article, “Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin said today he feels strongly that the Medium Extended Air Defense System is a ‘waste of money,…’”  Because of the prohibitive cost ($2 billion over budget), schedule delays (10 years behind schedule) and the system’s poor performance, the U.S. Army has said it doesn’t want MEADS and that it would never use the missiles.”  Now, in nothing more than a dog and pony show, there was a test of MEADS.  And, a misleading title of a news story, “MEADS Successfully Completes First Intercept Flight Test,” shows that even more education about this unneeded program is necessary.

A press release from MEADS boasts of the test’s success by noting, “The test achieved all criteria for success.”  This statement may sound pretty cut-and-dry, but like the MEADS program itself, this simple sentence is really misleading.  The release fails to articulate just what standards and requirements were used to formulate the criterion created to dictate the success or failure of this test.  It’s pretty easy to be a success when there’s nothing in place that measures what criteria is used to consider one successful.

Focusing on this sentence alone may seem a little innocuous, but the reality is it’s indicative of so many of the flaws and disappointments throughout the lifetime of the MEADS program.  Not to mention, all taxpayers should be up in arms when they learn the price tag for this unnecessary and wasteful exercise.

2011 GAO report reveals that procurement costs alone could be another $13.7 billion, with the total program cost listed as $19.1 billion.  And what’s there to show for this enormous expenditure of taxpayer dollars?  Sadly, this publicity stunt is one of the only things.  Yet, somehow we’re supposed to be over-the-moon excited about the first “successful” test of this missile program.  If this feels like déjà vu, you’re on to something. As TPA explained in a blog from earlier this year: “The system’s first ‘test’ last November consisted of firing a missile at nothing in particular — just out into the air. Despite aiming at no particular target, MEADS officials declared the ‘test’ a success. Sadly, the American people paid for this public relations stunt.”

It’s no wonder then that the DoD “gave up on it [MEADS] in 2011, announcing that it would not field MEADS because it cannot afford it.”  It’s not too late to stop the waste that’s synonymous with MEADS. A new report from the Concerned Veterans for America reveals that “taking MEADS off life support will ultimately save the taxpayers more than $13 billion.”   In addition to their informative report, Concerned Veterans for America have released a great video that explains why “fighting for earmarks without regard for strategic needs,” like what the government is doing with the MEADS program, has got to end.

Taxpayers don’t want another flashy news release next year that, at best, completely misleads taxpayers about how and on what our money is being spent.  Congress should reject all calls for more MEADS funding, the most recent of which came just this week from Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, one of MEADS’ staunchest supporters. These misguided attempts to keep MEADS alive represent misplaced priorities at the Department of Defense at a time when Congress must be focused on ridding the federal budget of all wasteful and unnecessary spending.  The bottom line is that hardworking taxpayers are the ones left to pay for these exercises in futility like the most recent MEADS “test”…. And enough is enough.