MEADS Debate Looms in Berlin

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The German parliament likely will skip a customary two-week review and debate the 2.85 billion euro ($3.76 billion) spending plan for the tri-national Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) this month. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) requires approval by March 26 to join partners Italy and the United States.

The Finance Minist ry’s Parliamentary state secretary, Gerd Ehlers, forwarded the MEADS development spending plan to the budget committee March 3.

The eight-page spending plan estimates the development costs for German MEADS participation will be about 997 million euros. A precise procurement cost estimate, according to the document, cannot be given until the end of the development phase in 2012, as none of the three partner countries has committed to system procurement numbers.

The MoD estimates the cost of German MEADS procurement at 2.85 billion euros. It expects costs for the primary missile, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3, to be about 2.1 million euros each and the secondary Iris-T surface-launched missile at 600,000 euros each.

MoD plans to procure 12 systems, 216 PAC-3 missiles and 504 surface-launched Iris-Ts.

A senior MoD official said the spending plan depended on the approval of leaders in the Green Party, who form the government’s coalition along with the Social Democrats, but who have expressed skepticism about MEADs.

Still, a Berlin-based defense industry executive said he expects the spending plan to be approved this month. “All involved basically embrace the program, and it has not seldom been the case that a spending plan was approved only days after it was forwarded to parliament,” he said.

But Green parliamentarian Winfried Nachtwei said he has doubts about financial and strategic aspects. Green politicians say MEADS ultimately could cost more than Defense Minister Peter Struck says it will.