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CAGW Launches “Attack” on Second Medium Extended Air Defense System Program Flight Test

For Immediate Release Contact: Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334
November 6, 2013 Alexandra Booze 202-467-5318

(Washington, D.C.) Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) came out in opposition to a November 6, 2013 “graduation exercise,” testing the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) at the White Sands Missile Range.  According to a press release from MEADS International,  the prime contractor for the MEADS system,  the “successful flight test is the culmination of three countries working together to design, develop and build the most advanced and capable air and missile defense weapon system in the world.”  For the past several years, CAGW has closely followed the MEADS program, asserting that it could be eliminated without endangering national security.

From the perspective of U.S. taxpayers, it is difficult to understand the necessity of going forward with the test, especially since the Pentagon has no plans to purchase the system.  It has been widely speculated that this test is simply a showpiece for the system contractor, Lockheed Martin, and the MEADS program allies, Germany and Italy, to shop for potential contributors to continue development and procurement of MEADS.  Poland has previously been courted as a replacement for the U.S.  A MEADS development director for Lockheed Martin stated that Washington’s exit “provides the opportunity for Poland to literally jump to the front of the line.”  Most alarmingly, the U.S. is apparently on the hook for the majority of the cost of the exercise.  Former U.S. Army Acting Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Dean Popps has heavily criticized any further investment in MEADS, and claimed the test is “largely to assuage our partner nations hoping to fill the void left by the United States.”

Intended as a replacement for the Patriot missile system, MEADS has been dogged by cost overruns of nearly $2 billion and is a decade behind schedule.  President Obama did not ask for money for MEADS in his fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request.  This was consistent with the administration’s promise to cease funding following the two-year proof of concept phase that concluded after FY 2013.  The House and Senate Appropriations Committees followed suit, withholding funding for MEADS in their respective versions of the FY 2014 Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Bill released over the summer. 

For several years, DOD officials stated that cancelling the program was prohibitive without agreement from Germany and Italy because of high unilateral termination costs.  However, a confidential DOD report to Congress obtained by CAGW concluded that the U.S. could withdraw from the contract without committing additional money or paying termination fees. 

With allies in powerful congressional committees, MEADS has proven challenging to finish off.  In fact, on June 19, 2013, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) compared the program to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, stating “You think [MEADS] is dead and it keeps popping out of the bathtub again.”

“Taxpayers are all too familiar with DOD boondoggles that receive funding long after they are proven wasteful, and today’s duplicative test of the costly and unsuccessful MEADS program is unfortunately a perfect example,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “Given the DOD’s sequester cuts, and the fact that neither President Obama nor members of Congress requested funding for the program in FY 2014, the test was a waste of federal funds that should have been allotted to fund ongoing and necessary DOD programs.”

CAGW is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. 

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