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Berganini: The Right Approach on Missile Defense

In The Right Approach to Missile Defense (May 21), Raytheon executive Tim Glaeser says it doesn’t make financial sense to spend billions of dollars on new missile defense systems that are untested and could prove ineffective.

Of course, he neglects to say the U.S. has already spent billions of dollars upgrading the Patriot system — and the Pentagon recently cited plans to spend $2 billion more in the next five years — and it still doesn’t have a Patriot system that meets its requirements.

The truth is Raytheon lost a fair competition to build the Medium Extended Air Defense System, intended to replace Patriot to address capability gaps. And Raytheon has worked steadfastly ever since to undermine MEADS’ success through a Washington-focused campaign intended to keep the money flowing on facelifts for the 40-year-old Patriot system.

MEADS is a tri-national effort that continues to have strong support by partner countries Germany and Italy. When describing why Germany opted for MEADS over upgrading its Patriot systems, Lt. Gen. Norbert Finster, then vice chief of staff of the German Air Force, said Patriot “has no capability with respect to the [ballistic missile] threat beyond the 1000 km range, it is a very heavy system, and finally it has clear limitations with respect to further developments.” In fact, Germany has sold off 12 of its 24 Patriot units and is strongly committed to completing MEADS development.

Reversing the results of a competitively awarded MEADS contract will limit the Army’s air and missile defense options for decades to come. If we are being honest about what makes financial sense, we would have to ask ourselves, how many billions are we prepared to spend upgrading technology that still doesn’t meet the needs of warfighters? And that is in addition to the billions spent each year for manpower, operation, repair and transport of Patriot — costs that MEADS would cut in half. Then the next step will be for Congress to spend billions more integrating Patriot into the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, which MEADS is capable of connecting with today.

The defense budget is under tremendous pressure. Dollars matter. And that applies to Patriot as well, not just MEADS. The right course of action is to authorize $400 million to fund the MEADS program to completion next year and benefit from the increased coverage, plug-and-fight network, mobility and open architecture battle management technology the U.S. will then own.

— David Berganini, president of MEADS International

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