The international consortium developing the $3.4 billion Meads air and missile defense program for the U.S., Germany and Italy says it could sign on a fourth foreign partner by next year, according to a senior executive with the Lockheed Martin-led group.
The U.S. last month said it would stop funding the U.S.-European Medium Extended Air Defense System, or Meads, after fiscal 2013, calling it unaffordable in the current budget climate. Germany issued a similar statement, but it has also said itis open to fielding a Meads-derived missile defense system pending the outcome of the development program.
As Aviation Week reported March 21, Mike Trotsky, Lockheed vice president of air and missile defense, said talks are ongoing with other nations that have expressed interest in participating in production, although he declined to identify them. A formal agreement could come in 1-2 years, according to Trotsky.
Marty Coyne, director of business development for the Orlando, Fla.-based Meads venture, said he remained convinced that the system offered unique capabilities to defend against a growing threat, and said he had personally met with officials from several other countries in Europe and the Middle East that wanted to participate.
He also declined to give any details, but said the Meads system had aced a critical design review last August and still offered capabilities that were needed around the world.
“In the Middle East, there are countries that are absolutely in harm’s way,” Coyne told Reuters March 28. “They understand the threat posed by Iran.”