After seven years of tri-national co-development, the MEADS program successfully completed its first flight test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., on 17 November. A large gallery of invited guests applauded as a PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) MEADS Certified Missile Round demonstrated an unprecedented over-the-shoulder launch of the missile against a simulated target attacking from behind.
The test also represented the first launch using a MEADS lightweight launcher (Italian configuration) and battle manager (US configuration).
The missile’s unique sideways maneuver demonstrated a 360-degree capability that today’s fielded air and missile defense systems cannot provide. It executed a planned self-destruct sequence at the end of the mission after successfully engaging the simulated threat.
MEADS International Executive Vice President Volker Weidemann thanked the program team for their efforts resulting in the successful test. “Today, we celebrate the power of our tri-national team to develop world-class air and missile defense technology. The system performed as designed, demonstrating the 360-degree defensive capability that our forces need against the evolving threats of the 21st century. Your efforts have definitely raised the bar.”
“Today’s successful flight test is an important validation for the continuing MEADS development,” said MEADS International President Dave Berganini. “MEADS’ advanced capabilities detect, track and intercept tomorrow’s threats from farther away and without blind spots. The MEADS digital design ensures high reliability and significantly reduced operational and support costs.”
Using its 360-degree defensive capability, the advanced MEADS radars and MSE missile, MEADS can defend up to eight times the coverage area of currently fielded systems while using far fewer system assets. This greatly reduces deployed personnel, equipment and demand for airlift to a fraction of that for current systems.
MEADS International, a multinational joint venture headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is the prime contractor for the MEADS system. Major subcontractors and joint venture partners are MBDA in Italy and Germany, and Lockheed Martin in the United States.
The MEADS program management agency NAMEADSMA is located in Huntsville, Ala.