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MEADS

Medium-range air defense system

MEADS

The MEADS air defense system is used by Germany and Italy

 
 
Country of origin Germany, Italy, United States
Entered service 2012
Number of missiles per launcher 12
Missile length 5.21 m
Missile diameter ?
Fin span ?
Missile weight 312 kg
Warhead weight ?
Warhead type HE-FRAG
Range of fire ~ 40 km
Altitude of fire ~ 20 km

 

   The Medium Extended Air Defense System or MEADS was jointly developed by Germany, Italy and the United States. This air defense system was intended to replace the Patriot systems in Germany and the United States, as well as ageing Nike Hercules systems in Italy. Development was initiated in 2004 by Italy and the United States. In 2005 Germany officially joined the program. The United States originally planned to obtain 48 MEADS launchers with 1 528 missiles, however in 2011 the Pentagon deiced to cancel the procurement, but continued funding the development. The MEADS air defense system reached initial operational capability in 2012. It will gradually replace the older systems in Germany and Italy. Interestingly, the MEADS is used by Italian Air Force, however Italian Army uses a different SAMP/T system.

   The main role of the MEADS is to defend maneuver forces and key installations against aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, as well as tactical and short-range ballistic missiles (with a maximum range of up to 1 000 km), and cruise missiles.

   The MEADS system uses proven MIM-104F missiles. The same missiles are used by the Patriot PAC-3 system. This missile is highly maneuverable and destroys targets by ramming them. Yet still it has a small HE-FRAG warhead to enhance the kill probability. The MIM-104F missile is the baseline interceptor of the system, though on German MEADS systems it is expected to be supplemented by a secondary IRIS-T SLS short-range missile.

   The baseline MIM-104F missile has a range of around 40 km. It is likely that it can reach targets at an altitude of up to 20 km. Range of the IRIS-T SLS is likely to be up to 35 km. Missiles are stored in canisters.

   Each launcher vehicle of the MEADS is equipped with 12 missiles. Unlike the Patriot launcher, which fires at a fixed firing angles, the MEADS launcher fires nearly vertically at a 70 launch position and can engage targets through 360 degrees.

   The MEADS launchers use a palletized load handling system. So the whole set of 12 missiles can be rapidly reloaded.

   The MEADS is a mobile system. Even though it can not operate while on the move, all of the system components can be briefly redeployed. A battery of launchers with associated support vehicles can change their position up to several times a day.

   The MEADS battery operates will less system assets, personnel and equipment than the older Patriot battery. The complete battery includes six launcher vehicles, one surveillance radar, two multifunctional fire control radar, two battle management systems, and reloading vehicles, that carry spare missiles for the launchers.

   Radars of the MEADS have a 360 degree coverage, while the Patriot radars were limited to 120 degrees. Furthermore launchers, radars and battle management systems can be located remotely from one another. This feature improves overall survivability of the system.

   The multi-function fire control radar is an X-band solid-state phased array radar with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). It provides precision tracking and discrimination and classification capabilities. The radar uses its main beam for missile guidance, eliminating the need for a separate guidance array. This radar also provides friend or foe identification capability.

   The surveillance radar provides long-range detection of low radar cross-section objects. This radar operates below detection frequency of current anti-radiation missiles.

   The battle management system is basically a command and control element of the MEADS. It provides battle management for the launcher units. It calculates optimal engagements and sends firing commands to the launcher vehicles. At least two launchers can fire simultaneously in order to defended against multiple threats or massed missile attacks.

   This air defense system has an open architecture, that allows any combination of radars and launchers to be organized into a single coordinated air and missile defense network. Furthermore the MEADS is interoperable by other NATO air and missile defense systems and can be coordinated by NATO command and control structure. This allows to combine air defense and anti-ballistic assets of various countries into one single network.

   Components of the German MEADS systems are based on MAN SX45 military trucks. These are purpose-designed military vehicles that have good cross-country mobility and can travel over tough terrain.

   Components of Italian systems are based on unusual ARIS AGC trucks. These vehicles were developed for transportation of special equipment an were tailored to fit into internal bay of the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. These vehicles can drive on the C-130J and drive off with their equipment without any preparation.

   Components of the US systems were based on M1083 series military trucks with 6x6 configuration. The United States originally planned to obtain 48 MEADS launchers with 1 528 missiles, however in 2011 the Pentagon canceled the procurement.

   All MEADS system components can be airlifted by an A400M, C-17 Globemaster III or C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft. A single C-17 can carry 3 vehicles. The Italian systems can be even airlifted by smaler C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft.

 

 

 
MEADS

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MEADS

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MEADS

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