The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program office has presented full life-cycle cost estimates for acquisition and sustainment to its three customer nations that show a significantly reduced cost of ownership compared with currently fielded systems, MEADS prime contractor Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control of Dallas announced Sept. 22.

NATO’s MEADS program is intended to replace the U.S. Army’s aging Patriot air and missile defense system and has been in development for more than a decade. MEADS, which recently completed its critical design review, will use trucks equipped with interceptor missiles and omni-directional radars to defeat cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of flight. The system is funded 58 percent by the United States, 25 percent by Germany and 17 percent by Italy.

MEADS operations and sustainment costs are estimated to be about half of what the Patriot system currently costs, according to a Lockheed Martin press release. Lockheed Martin will not disclose the actual cost estimates for acquisition or sustainment because production decisions have not yet been made by the three customer nations, company spokeswoman Heather Kelly said.

The United States, Germany and Italy are expected to reach a decision on whether to enter a low-rate production phase in October. To date, Lockheed Martin and its industry partners have spent $1.9 billion of the $3.4 billion MEADS Design and Development contract, Kelly said.