MEADS is Ready for the Future

On the occasion of the Eurosatory Show in Paris, S&H talks to Joe L GARLAND, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control [LM MFC] on the status of the Medium Extended Air Defence System [MEADS] following the decision of Germany and the possibilities for other NATO members, like Turkey and Poland, in addition to others.

 

S&H: Can we please start with the evolution of the MEADS concept?

 

J. GARLAND:During the first Gulf War, an understanding started to develop, starting, I believe, with the US Government, towards a need for a system that had more than a sector level capability, namely a 36o degree capability, a system that didn’t have an interceptor with a blast fragmentation warhead, but a system that had a hit-to-kill interceptor. The need for those two items was confirmed in the Iraqi Freedom operations. -If we were develop a system, did we want to have a system architecture where everything fit together or did we want a system that has kind of a network architecture where you could have a radar, a missile and a battle manager that you could feed into this open architecture solution. And the last piece was, when we looked at transporting the heritage system that has been in the US now for 5o years, namely the Patriot. Looking at the logistics required to move that system; it was very big. It took a lot of time, a lot of airlift and a lot of man-power to manage and run the system. At the end of those considerations, the US Army decided, they needed to come up with a solution that was more mobile, lighter and didn’t need as many soldiers to operate the system. So those were some of tenets…

 

S&H: So these were the results of lessons learned from the previous legacy system leading on to the new concept?

 

J. GARLAND:Correct, and so they should be brought onto the new concept. Following the basic definition of the system, the US approached our coalition partners in Europe; Italy and Germany, together with the US signed up on a set of requirements based on those lessons learned in addition to certain other characteristics. And this led to a programme called Medium Extended Air Defence System or MEADS in short, which is the trinational programme. The US took up the majority of the responsibility [58%], with Germany taking up a little less [25%] and Italy [17%] taking up the remainder.

 

S&H: And that translates into work-share?

 

J. GARLAND:Of workshare, absolutely. So, each one of the countries had unique items that they were going to develop.

 

S&H: How did that break-down work?

 

J. GARLAND:Well, when you look at it from a components basis, there was the Fire Control Radar, the Surveillance Radar, the Interceptor, the Battle Manager and the Launcher. Those were the five critical items. And the work share was divided up on who would take responsibility for which.

So we went into a development programme under a structure called MEADS International. Went through the development of the programme, some recent very successful launches under the programme. The launch tests about two years ago demonstrated the capability of this 36o degree radar by intercepting a target drone in the form of an QF-4 aircraft [unmanned version of the F-4 Phantom II], which was coming in from one direction and while also intercepting simultaneously, a simulated ballistic missile [Lance TBM] coming in from by 17o degree South. The system intercepted both simultaneously [3 missiles were fired as 2 against the the Lance TBM and 1 against the QF-4]. This test was in November 6, 2o13.

 

S&H: Was it a total system test or just an interception test?

 

J. GARLAND:This was a total system test. So with missiles going in the shape of a ‘V’, we term it as validation, validation of what we had done and been successful and no other air defence programme has ever done that to date. As we completed the successful validation and were looking at the next phase, the US Army made a study of their funding requirements and realised they could not afford the programme going forward while paying for modifications for Patriot. So the US Army backed out of the programme for the next phase.

Backing out due to affordability issues, the US Army went forward and put together an analysis of alternatives on what the next step would be while at the same time the German Government put together an evaluation on what their requirements were for air defence. Last summer, in June, the German Government announced they would go forward with MEADS. And what this basically meant was, after looking at everything else, MEADS was the best option and Germany committed to develop a system unique to Germany out of the MEADS framework to be identified as ‘Taktisches LuftVerteidigungsSystem’ or TLVS in short

So now Germany is going ahead with this TLVS Programme, configured around the MEADS core. It’s going to be contracted with MBDA, which already was the German- partner for MEADS, and we Lockheed Martin will be a major partner.

 

S&H: What is the current status?

 

J. GARLAND:We are currently in the process of detailing a proposal for Germany for the TLVS Programme. We expect to submit our proposal during the third quarter of this year and we expect to be under contract late this or early next fiscal year for the TLVS Programme in Germany.

 

S&H: How did the US analysis come out?

 

J. GARLAND: The US Government had decided to run this analysis of alternatives to take a look at where they want to go into the future. It has not been released yet, as they are still working on it. But the US is approaching to the same point with very similar findings; a 36o degree capability is still vital, along with a system that can be plugged in and is ready to operate, and the US have already selected the PAC-3 MSE Missile and decided on the Battle Manager called IBCS [Integrated Battle Command System]. They are also looking at other items: like Fire Control Radars and Launchers, and they are looking at ways they can go forward on these programmes. When the analysis of alternatives is finalized and the US Army starts looking at these plug and fight capabilities, we are going to be able to take some of our MEADS capability plus any additional requirements and put together a unique solution for the US Army. So we are very excited about going in with the US Army to look at a lower tier Fire Control System, a lower tier Radar and any other additional systems. So that’s kind of where the US programme is today.

 

S&H: When is the US Army decision expected?

 

J. GARLAND:We are hoping this year. It has been going on for a while. On July 6, the Army released a Request for Information on candidates to replace the Patriot radar. We also expect the German decision to go ahead with MEADS to have a positive effect on the US Army decision. When you look at it, there has been some US$4 Billion invested in MEADS todate.

 

S&H: Is that the US investment ot total?

 

J. GARLAND:Total accross the board for the MEADS programme. So it is only natural for the Germans obviously, but for the US Army as well, to look at that investment and say ‘what can I get out of the investment as I go forward with my air defence programmes’. The same approach would also apply for Poland and Turkey, of course. There is a number of other players, number of other countries that are looking for similar capabilities.

 

S&H: What is the status of Italy?

 

J. GARLAND:Italy has not reached a final decision yet. Italy is evaluating their funding right now to determine which piece of the programme they will continue with. Like a lot of countries right now, Italy is prioritizing funding on where to go. So, as we look at where those, where the US is and where the Germans are, there are a number of other countries in Europe that have similar requirements, very similar requirements.

 

S&H: At least the Hawk/Patriot user nations will need future solutions?

 

J. GARLAND:Patriot users, HAWK users! There are a lot of countries out there today, that accept the threat has evolved to the point where a 36o degree capability is vital. They have existing products in their inventories today and would like to plug into this ‘plug and fight’ solution and not have to rebuy  many add-ons. So when we look around Europe, Poland is looking very closely at a programme they called WISLA, that has very similar capabilities to what the Germans are developing for TLVS and what we develop for MEADS.

Turkey, as you well know, with the T-LoRAMiDS Program, has decided let’s step back and re-look at other options out there. We believe, as we go forward here over the next several months and get under contract with Germany, that we are going to have a number of other countries that come on board and say which elements out of MEADS or out of TLVS can I use to make a unique system. Again in Turkey, there’ll be a lot of discussions with the Turkish Industry, there’ll be a Turkish Industry partner, that is a recommended partner to go forward on T-LoRAMiDS Programme and similarly as we look at those opportunities I believe there is a lot of potential looking at the most cost-effective solution.

 

S&H: Today, the name of the game is industrial participation and every country with a requirement also wants to be a part of the game as well. How are you going to be able to accommodate those industrial participations separately for each country?

 

J. GARLAND:I think it’s a very interesting time right now for the TLVS Programme in the way that it is maturing, as it goes forward. There are opportunities in Poland, there are opportunities in Turkey to put together a working relationship and define a work-share package. Instead of just being a Lockheed Martin and MBDA package, there could be Turkish industrial participation, there could be Polish industrial participation, as we try and determine a total work-share package. This is a very good time to be looking at those work-shares.

Lets look at the TLVS Programme: after Germany selected the basic system to be MEADS, they then developed the TLVS approach where they opted to integrate the IRIS-T missile as a medium range missile and a short range missile combination. This is one way of creating work-share and there are capabilities in Turkey who would be very interested in such a development programme. This would be a missile that could be operated together with the PAC-3 MSE Missile, which would then give Turkey the capability of a short-and-medium range missile combination, which could be operated by the same set of hardware. There is a lot of opportunity and we are currently in the process of sending a team to Turkey to work with the Turkish Government on requirements and to look at the Turkish Industry, for potential partners.

 

S&H: What will be the possibility of work-share within the MEADS elements itself in addition to country-specific add-ons?

 

J. GARLAND:That could be possible too. When you look at the MEADS System itself, we are looking at industry partners to come inside the MEADS umbrella, to be able to become true industry partners within this next set of development work that we are going to do. This is another potential area which would go to increase the work-share on a national basis.

All areas of cooperation possibilities will be on the discussion table.

 

S&H: ITAR limitations will be on the table, as well?

 

J. GARLAND:Well, there are ITAR restricted elements within all of these systems but there are elements even within the PAC-3 MSE Missile that is outside ITAR. All these need to be looked at in detail when they are on the table. Under the MEADS Programme, the German Government have defined their own concept of the Battle Manager, which as you know is the brains of the system architecture, called SAMOC [Surface-to-Air Missile Operations Center], which will be integrated into the MEADS/TLVS as a Germany unique solution. There are some other examples of this kind under the German unique approach.

Turkey, in the same way, can take up the MEADS, the TLVS or a combination thereof and then define certain elements to be Turkey unique to be undertake as industrial participation. Each country are going to want some unique items specific to their national requirements. So now, over the next four to five months is a very opportune time for other countries to take a look at where the programme is, to take a look at how they could fit in through the programme, have discussions with the German Government, have discussions with the German Industry, have discussions with Lockheed Martin on where we could go collectively.

 

S&H: Obviously it is a little too much to expect happening all at the right time. How will time delays effect the work-share discussions, will,opportunities be lost?

 

J. GARLAND:No, they will definitely not be lost, I fully agree with you. I think that Germany, with TLVS, are on a good timeline for closure by the end of this year. And to get other government and industry partners on board could very well take longer. However, there will still be opportunities at that point to open up that work share.

 

S&H: How do you see other potential?

 

J. GARLAND:With the MEADS Programme is in Europe, there are a number of countries in Europe that are looking for air defence capability. There are a number of programmes in Europe where they cannot afford to buy a total air defence capability. They are looking for ‘plug and play’ architecture that we have. There might be a country that can only afford the Surveillance Radar element which can be fit into this network solution. So there are a lot of countries, some 15 to 2o countries that we see that are looking for these kinds of capabilities out of the MEADS Programme. They could fit elements and as they can afford to fit those elements, they can fit them into the overall ‘plug and play’ architecture.

 

S&H: Looking at MEADS/TLVS. What sort of a time-linwe are you looking at for the system to become available?

 

J. GARLAND:Today, the German timeline indicates that they intend on keeping the Patriot alive until 2o2o-2o25. Those systems have gone through certain upgrades of their own. Our expectations right now are to have the MEADS/TLVS available in Germany latest by 2o25. We are currently trying to advance that a little bit. The latest discussions included a timeline of 4.5 to 5 years after contract effectivity.

 

S&H: What can youtell us about the German TLVS schedules and the potential work-share between the US and German Industries?

 

J. GARLAND:We have received the official Request for Proposal [RfP]. We have a joint US-German team in Schrobenhausen, Germany right now working on the proposal. As we go through the RfP in detail, we are also making the decisions real-time on what elements fit with whom. So today I can’t say this is exactly what each one of the partners will be doing or how will the unique requirements of the TLVS will be taken up. These will all be finalized as we submit our final proposal.

 

S&H: Can you give us a comparison of the MEADS with Patriot?

 

 J. GARLAND:We have looked at the majority of items; like the 36o degree capability and the hit-to-kill engagement capability, as well as the decreased man-power requirements and the increased system mobility are all important discriminators. But I believe the ‘plug and fight’ architecture is the most important innovation, as it does away with all the constraints, which limits you in adding new elements to it, especially in the sense of creating unique solutions. The PAC-3 MSE Missile, obviously, is also a discriminator, although it will be common to both. Also an important discriminator is the US$4 Billion worth of investment todate, which takes air defence into the next generation. Thus you do not have to rely on a fifty year old system, all over again.

 

S&H: How will MEADS define a battery and number of missiles or will that be defined by the user?

 

J. GARLAND:There is a fixed number of missiles per battery [8 MSE missiles per launcher]. The way forward would be to look at the re-load numbers and the define the number of fire units and/or systems when building up a requirement.

 

S&H: How are you looking at the future of MEADS and plans?

 

J. GARLAND:Today, we are just concentrating on the TLVS Programme. I believe that all of the items defined need to be continued to be matured which will be realised during the TLVS programme. So we see nothing beyond that or a need for any upgrades at this stage.

 

S&H: Looking at your cooperation with Patriot over the years, which is now turning into a competition as well. How do you plan to work that into the future?

 

J. GARLAND:We have worked very closely with Raytheon through the years, where we have been close partners on some programmes and competitor on others. So as we go together and look to satisfy partners’ needs, if there is a requirement for us to be close partners, we’ll be close partners. This is a mature relationship as with any industry partner.

 

S&H: A case in question will be Poland, obviously, where you will be both cooperating and competing?

 

J. GARLAND:Yes, that could, very well be possible. PAC-3 MSE is the missile of choice, today. PAC-3 would go forward in any of the Patriot upgrade programmes that would take PAC-3 because most everyone recognizes the benefits of PAC-3. So we would be participating with our missile, working together with an industry partner, while at the same time looking at more of a system solution with MEADS with the PAC-3 MSE also and you know we have a history of developing firewalls and we honour those firewalls under our commitments.

 

S&H: On behalf of our readers, thank you for your time and good luck with the MEADS Programme.

 

 

 

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