Missile to nowhere?

Army generals have said repeatedly the service doesn’t want it. The Senate voted 94–5 to kill funding in its final year. But much like Michael Myers in the Halloween horror series, this missile defense system just won’t die.

Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air and Missile Defense System, better known as MEADS, sounds like a weapons system the U.S. military might want to invest. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced a $1 billion program to improve U.S. ballistic missile defenses following the nuclear tests and threats from North Korea.

However, the U.S. will pay $380 million to complete the development of a system that it doesn’t plan to buy. Paying that amount of money in the era of budget cuts with Defense Department civilians set to take a 22-day unpaid furlough is especially irritating for members of Congress.

One influential Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee has come to call MEADS the “missile to nowhere.”

“This is a weapons system that the Pentagon won’t use and Congress doesn’t want to fund. We shouldn’t waste any more money on a ‘missile to nowhere’ that will never reach the battlefield,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “Every dollar we spend on a wasteful program is a dollar we don’t have to ensure our service members have everything they need to protect themselves and accomplish their missions.”

Ayotte sponsored an amendment to end funding for the program — an amendment that passed in the Senate 94–5. However, when it mattered most, Congressional appropriators again caved and included $380 million in the 2013 continuing resolution to complete funding in MEADS’ final year of development.


In 2013, Lockheed Martin, which heads the consortium of companies developing the system, hopes to prove in a flight test that MEADS can successfully intercept a ballistic missile.

The argument made by the MEADS lobby is that the military can harvest technologies from the missile defense system. Killing the program now would leave the U.S. with little to show for the investment they made in the program. Also, the termination fees written into the contract nearly equal the total amount required to fund the program in its final year.

It is not clear from the article why the generals don't want the weapon, but it is clear that chuck Schumer wanted to keep it alive to save some jobs in New York.  If the termination fees are nearly the same as completion cost, it is hard to argue that killing it is a better deal than seeing if it works and what parts of it maybe useful for other  weapon systems.


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