Qatar is in talks to become a partner on the MEADS
missile defense program with Germany and Italy.
17 Nov 2011 By TOM KINGTON and MICHAEL HOFFMAN DefenseNews
Qatar is in talks to become a risk partner on the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) missile defense program with Germany and Italy, a source knowledgeable of the talks has told Defense News.
The gulf state started talks with Italy and Germany after the U.S. announced in February that it would leave the program at the conclusion of the development phase, without procuring the system.
Qatar is interested in the program as it looks to security requirements ahead of 2022 when it is hosting the soccer World Cup, the source said. The growing perception of a missile threat from Iran has also persuaded the gulf state to consider joining MEADS.
It is not clear how Qatar's entry into the program would save it, since 58 percent of the program has been funded by the U.S., with Germany and Italy funding 25 percent and 17 percent respectively. After the U.S. pulls out, Germany said it would not proceed with procurement.
The U.S. has spent $1.5 billion thus far on the $4.2 billion program. Pentagon officials plan to spend another $800 million to complete the design and development phase in 2014.
Lockheed Martin, which is developing the missile defense system, announced it completed its first successful flight test Nov. 17 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The test proved the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement could destroy a simulated target attacking from behind.
"Today's successful flight test is an important validation for the continuing MEADS development," said MEADS International President Dave Berganini in a statement.
"MEADS' advanced capabilities detect, track and intercept tomorrow's threats from farther away and without blind spots. The MEADS digital design ensures high reliability and significantly reduced operational and support costs."
The test comes as the U.S. Congress continues to rip the program and question why a nation struggling to shrink its defense budget would spend nearly another $1 billion on a missile defense system the Army has said it doesn't want. Congress left appropriations out of the defense authorization bill to pay the rest of the contract.
"The committee concluded that the course proposed by the Department is untenable and that the Department should explore all options with our allies before continuing to fund a program which we no longer need," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote in a statement.
President Barack Obama disagreed with the decision to cancel the program, saying he recommended the Pentagon complete the contract. He said it made sense to complete the design and development phase rather than cancel the program and potentially pay more in cancellation fees. Canceling now would also let down our international partners.
"This lack of authorization could also call into question DoD's ability to honor its financial commitments in other binding cooperative MOUs and have adverse consequences for other international cooperative programs," the statement from the Office of Management and Budget reads.