Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her support to the Pentagon’s efforts to win a final year of congressional funding for development of an air-defense system being developed by companies led by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Providing one more installment of funds before canceling the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS, “would signal the U.S. commitment to working with allies to cooperatively develop capabilities required for the challenges” facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Clinton said in a letter dated yesterday to Senator Daniel Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat who heads the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee.
Congressional critics say the system, designed to intercept medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones, has been plagued by cost overruns and performance failures. While Inouye’s panel and the full Senate Appropriations Committee have backed a final $380 million for the system, the three other defense panels that authorize and appropriate defense dollars denied the funding.
Development of MEADS is managed from Orlando, Florida, by MEADS International Inc., a joint venture of Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland; Lfk-Lenkflugkoerpersysteme GmbH, based in Schrobenhausen, Germany; and MBDA, based in Valenton, France. MBDA is jointly owned by BAE Systems Plc, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. and Finmeccanica SpA.