Pentagon promises funding for Lockheed missile defense system

Posted Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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GRAND PRAIRIE -- The Pentagon has pledged additional funding to complete development of a controversial $4.8 billion missile defense program being designed by Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control unit in Grand Prairie.

In a letter to officials in Germany and Italy, which are partners in the program, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Lockheed will receive the final installment in contract funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS.

The ground-mobile system is expected to provide superior technology to the Patriot missile system used in the Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm campaigns.

MEADS, officials say, is easier to transport and provides 360-degree coverage against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and large-caliber rockets.

The Patriot's coverage is limited to 90 degrees, officials say.

Lockheed's share of the contract amounts to about $2.3 billion. Italy and Germany make up the rest.

The Pentagon expects to incorporate the technology into its integrated air and missile defense strategy.

Continued funding in the design phase of the program was uncertain.

Launched in the late 1990s, MEADS fell out of favor with some Senate leaders and a taxpayer watchdog group, which said it was plagued with cost overruns and a decade of delays.

Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks government spending, said its estimates showed that it would cost more than $16 billion in design, development and procurement.

But Hagel's letter ends speculation over the MEADS program as funding will "be the final U.S. contribution to the program."

Lockheed's Missiles and Fire Control unit employs about 7,200 people.

Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705

Twitter: @yberard

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