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Lockheed Martin: Patriot PAC-3 Launch
Lockheed Martin: Patriot PAC-3 Launch

“This is a very strange move” an Israeli source said about Italy’s intent to make Poland as a partner for the development of an advanced next generation air missile defense system.

According to Aviation Week Italy’s top military brass is hopeful that Poland, and possibly Japan, will step in to fill the vacuum left by the U.S. after it abandoned plans to produce a next-generation air and missile defense system with Rome and Berlin.

The U.S. plans to continue funding the Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) through fiscal 2013, but its support will end with the completion of development of the ambitious project in fiscal 2014. Washington has contributed 58% of the funding, with Germany providing 25% and the remaining 17% coming from Italy.

The U.S. supported the completion of development, but was unable to move into production as the economic downturn pinched defense spending. The U.S. Army ultimately chose to upgrade its legacy Patriot system over buying Meads.

This has left Berlin and Rome without a partner in producing the system. Lt. Gen. Claudio Debertolis, secretary general of defense and national armaments director in Italy, told an Aviation Week May 8 that Poland is “very interested” in joining the Meads partnership.

The Israeli sources said that the Israeli technology as related to air missile defense is “one of the most advanced” and that Italy that recently purchased two early warning aircraft from Israel, “I aware of it”.

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is a joint missile defense project of the United States, Germany, and Italy designed to replace the PATRIOT.

threat_EngMEADS is currently in the design and development phase, but once operational (if ever), it will use the new Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement missiles to protect ground forces and fixed military positions against attack from tactical ballistic missiles, low and high altitude cruise missiles, aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. 2

As a mobile, land-based, surface-to-air missile system, MEADS will bridge the gap between smaller portable surface-to-air systems like the Stinger missile and the higher levels of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System, such as the Terminal High Altitude Defense System (THAAD). Unlike the old Patriot system, MEADS will provide 360-degree coverage and will roll directly off transport vehicles into combat situations.