MEADS International has signed a contract to design and develop the medium extended air defense system. The contract, worth more than $3.4 billion, extends the previous contract letter that had been awarded by the NATO MEADS management agency in September 2004. The U.S. funds 58 percent of the program at present, with Germany providing 25 percent and Italy 17.
MEADS is a mobile air and missile defense system that will include a lightweight launcher, 360-degree fire control and surveillance radars, built on an architecture of “plug and fight” battle management technologies not found in current systems. Officials state that the system’s design will give NATO forces a degree of mobility and flexibility–as well as the ability to interface with other existing air defense systems–that are major improvements over existing air defense systems currently in use. MEADS International is a joint venture between MBDA Italia, EADS/LFK of Germany and U.S. group Lockheed Martin.