Missile To Nowhere Needs To Be Grounded

David Williams

April 23, 2013

Taxpayers may be startled to learn that even though there are automatic spending cuts (sequestration) this year, some of the most wasteful and inefficient programs still get funded. One of the most wasteful and expensive is the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program.  Despite The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibiting the funding of the program , DoD will be spending $380 million in continuing resolution (CR) funds to continue funding design and development of the program.  Additionally, President Obama left the program out of his budget, but still Defense Secretary Hagel announced in a letter sent this past Monday to the German and Italian Defense ministers, that, “the U.S. would provide the money in 2013 for development of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), a joint venture between the three countries.”

During a time when the country is experiencing fiscal difficulties and has a limited amount of resources even for defense spending, policy makers should be looking for ways to get the most bang for their buck and MEADS is not it. MEADs, which cost nearly $3 billion so far, has been plagued by consistent scheduling delays, cost overruns, and an overall failure to meet performance requirements.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has written numerous blogs on this issue (click here and here).

Thankfully, taxpayers have someone barring the door.  Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced legislation to prevent DoD from spending CR funding on MEADS development and design.  Unfortunately, that amendment never saw the light of day.  Senator Ayotte correctly coined MEADS the “Missile to Nowhere,” and elaborated on her distaste for the wasteful program in a press release when she said, “[t]axpayers shouldn’t have to keep paying for a failed weapons program that our troops will never use . . . with nearly $17 trillion in debt, we can’t afford business as usual spending. There is near unanimous support in the Senate for cutting funding for the ‘missile to nowhere,’ and the legislation I’m introducing will better support our troops.”

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) criticized the funding of MEADS in an April 11, 2013 press release which stated, “Rep. Bill Shuster told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today it would be irresponsible to fund the Medium Extended Air Defense System because it’s failing. ‘It’s foolish for us to be spending almost $400 million on a system that nobody’s going to procure, no one’s going to buy,’ the Republican congressman from Pennsylvania said of the controversial missile defense system, long a target of cost-cutters. ”

When Pentagon officials complain about furloughs and “the sky is falling sequestration,” remember that the “Missile to Nowhere” is still being funded and the Pentagon leadership is doing nothing to stop this expenditure.  MEADS is starting to look like more of a taxpayer hand out to Germany and Italy rather than a smart way to defend the United States.