Big Opportunity for Turkish Industry with MEADS

MEADS is the only full development program executed by a NATO agency, and the only program where the development started based on a harmonized set of requirements between Germany, Italy and the US

Issue 76 - July 2017

Mr. Jürgen Wlodarz, MEADS International, Member of the Board of Directors presented an overview of the MEADS system at IDEF 17.  He discussed the Revolutionary Air and Missile Defense system, providing details of the system capabilities that address the evolving threats and challenges that the world faces today. In a candid and informative press conference, Mr. Wlodarz shared with the press the well-known concern that the world is more unsafe than it was in the past, saying that “We have a lot of proliferation of missiles. The threat is expanding to Europe and western Europe and we need to have modern systems to cope and counter against that threat especially in the ballistic missile area. Over a period of 10 years, and with development completed in 2014, on June 9, 2015 Germany announced that MEADS would be the foundation for its new Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS) for their future air and missile defense system. That system will be replaced, at a later time, the Patriot system that is currently in use in Germany and the SAMOC system.”  The RFP was released in the first quarter of 2016 and includes integration of SAMOC and ground-launched IRIS-T SL missile as a secondary weapon. 

“We are not alone with MEADS. We are offering an open system architecture, which other countries are free to join.”  – German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen

Touching upon Germany’s decision with the system, Mr. Wlodarz stated “Meads provides next generation open architecture, very specifically for the German version of the MEADS system we will introduce additional deflectors and sensors using the open architecture capability. When our Minister of Defense announced the decision to go forward with the MEADS based solution for the future air and missile defense system, they said we will be not alone and we are offering MEADs to partner nations especially NATO, Germany is offering cooperation to all NATO partners, with the program and missile and air defense activity. With MEADS, we have revolutionary air and missile design we call the 21st century air and missile defense system.  We have 6 areas of key system requirements. Today we have 6 areas of key system capabilities and as a result of the development that we completed in 2014 we have successfully implemented all of these key system requirements.” 

Big Opportunity for Turkey with MEADS

Mr. Wlodarz discussed the fact that there is a significant opportunity to leverage Turkish defense industry expertise to enrich MEADS solutions for Turkey with the use of open architecture for flexible integration of Turkish defense assets and capabilities. There are opportunities for the Turkish industry to obtain a significant workshare in production of key elements. There is a heritage of cooperation and technology sharing that can be extended to Turkey and that MEADS provides military capabilities and partnership opportunities that competing systems cannot provide, cooperation and support with top international defense companies, such as the largest US defense company with operations in 70 countries and Europe’s largest missile house that supports 90 armed forces. Mr. Wlodarz stated “On the one hand, it is not completed and available as system as of today, but there is opportunity for partnership and local workshare and cooperation and on the other side there are 2 strong partners behind the program which are ready to start discussions and cooperation with Turkish Industry to supply the Turkish armed forces and the Turkish government with the system they need. As MEADS is not fully developed as of today and not fully qualified, there is also an opportunity for Turkish industry to be a partner for completing that development and so we leverage the Turkish industry in order to define and implement a Turkish solution of MEADS. That is one of the specific things that we also experienced in Germany, Germany said no I don’t want to introduce the standard MEADS configuration I want to enhance it by adding additional elements and that is one thing that can be done by Turkey, we can introduce existing missile systems or existing radars into that system and to set up really specific Turkish configurations which is tailored to the needs of the Turkish armed forces but also incorporates as much as possible Turkish industry.” 

Revolutionary Air and Missile Defense Capabilities

The capabilities of the MEADS solution were presented with detailed examples of how the system is meets the challenging requirements not addressed in any single previous AMD system. Target Set addresses next-generation threats, tactical ballistic missiles/UAVs, cruise missiles and aircraft, both conventional/unconventional.  Transportability & Mobility provides strategic and tactical airlift, continuous air and missile defense coverage for maneuver force and cross-country mobility. Mr. Wlodarz noted that “The German version is transportable with the A400M, and the Italian and US version was designed to be transportable with the C-130 ” Operating Concepts provide maneuver force protection, area defense, homeland defense and weighted asset protection. 360-Degree of Protection of the defended area - ABTs, TBMs. Interoperability of the system designed for coalition warfare, it is operational with a range of systems and is a dramatic improvement in combat effectiveness and situational awareness.

The Netted Distributed Architecture allows for Plug-and-fight capability via open architecture with non-proprietary software, providing a high level of operational flexibility.  Mr. Wlodarz explained further saying “Netted Distributed means that you are not limited to the assets of your own battle element. If you have a specific target to engage, and the best engagement solution would be to use a launcher or radar from a different battle element you can do that. You can use the whole set of assets which are active in the network regardless if it’s your own radar or it’s a radar of another battle element, you can use all of those assets to do engagement. That’s what we demonstrated in the demo, showing for example if you have battle element 1 and you want to do an engagement and the best fire solution is to use the radar from battle element 2 you can combine new launchers with the radar from the other battle element and it gives you many more engagement opportunities, a lot of flexibility to the system and enhances the system capability.” He added, regarding the Plug and Fight capability “You can easily integrate non-organic sensors or shooters. In the demo we integrated an Italian surveillance radar into the system and we were able to have live tracks from the Italian radar that was located on an Italian air force base near to Rome, we introduced it into the air picture of the MEADS system. We were able to integrate this radar that was not designed to be a part of the MEADS system and to use it.”  

Continuing, Mr. Wlodarz provided more details regarding the flexibility of the system “Specifically the operating concept which comes along with the open system architecture allows maneuvering force protection.  MEADS is a really mobile system, you can protect troops on their move, and high rated asset protection, nevertheless it can be used in a classic homeland defense mode. We provide a full 360-degree coverage for the whole threat set. 2 radars, surveillance and fire control radar which allows autonomously. The system is interoperable with all necessary standards in the NATO environment. The open architecture, one of the unique and outstanding capabilities of the system allows the easy integration of additional radar sensors and missile deflectors to the system. The plug and fight network works like the concept of a plug and play usb interface at your home computer. You can use fiber optics and radio connection for the plug and fight network.  It is possible to integrate and add additional systems during the mission, during engagement, during operation to that network. You can add an additional element and can be used in that mission. If you remove the element the system does not need to be shut down, you can remove the element and you can continue your mission. It is very flexible in operations.”    

MEADS External Interfaces for Interoperability and the MEADS Plug-and-Fight Network

Successful systems interoperability was demonstrated with the NATO Air Command and Control System during JPOW13 and NATO systems in the 2014 System Demo.  The traditional external interfaces are as follows: HEU/C2 Systems (EO Only), Ground-Based ADS, JTAGS/M3P, SR, TOC, MFCR, IRIS-T, Ground-Based ADS TOCs, JLENS and Naval ADS.  

MEADS Launcher

The Launcher provides high firepower and mobility and complies with a 360-degree launch capability with 8 ready-to-fire missiles per launcher.  The system self-loads flatracks using a Palletized Handling System with partial missile reload capability. 


The hit-to-kill missile provides increased performance, greater altitude and range compared to the PAC-3.  Threat-driven upgrades defeat the advancing threat set and leverages improved acquisition capability and detection range of MEADS radars.  Unprecedented demonstrations of the over-the-shoulder launches of PAC-3 MSE were completed successfully at White Sands Missile Range in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and the 360-degree dual intercept was successfully demonstrated in November 2013.

MEADS Battle Manager  

The network-centric open architecture allows for controlling node on network, Plug-and-Fight for sensors/shooters, integrated engagement capability and flexibility in force operations. The system enables enhanced maneuver force protection and it is interoperable with coalition, legacy, and future systems. In July 2014, a successful demonstration was made that seamlessly added and subtracted system elements under representative combat conditions.  

Mr. Wlodarz elaborated saying that the system allows for “Full control of all the nodes of the network, once in place all the other major systems are unmanned, fully remote controlled by the Battle Manager. All necessary actions and activities for engagement and force operation are integrated so you can do all of the planning in the Battle Manager. At the very beginning when the system was designed the decision was not to use one radar as a compromise for surveillance and tracking and engagement, but to have the perfect radar for surveillance and the perfect radar for fire control, therefore we decided to have 2 radars. The fire control radar is an x-band radar which is the perfect bandwidth to have accurate tracking information, multifunction based array, can actively control the scanned array. 360-degree coverage by rotating 2 modes, 15 and 30 rounds per minute. In additional to the rotation we can do digital beam forming in order to allow during one rotation several scans of one track which increases track quality and is also one of the reasons why we can do with a rotating radar the control of the PAC-3 MSE even against TBMs.  We can have the full 360-degree engagement capability. The IFF is part of the radar. A very specific thing with regard to the PAC-3 MSE is that the up and down link for the missile is conducted and performed by the radar.”

Development and Testing

Providing additional insight into the earlier years of the program, Mr. Wlodarz shared “The system is tested and proven, a 10-year program…design and development contract that started in 2004 and we completed that contract in December 2014. During that phase, we did all the design activities, we built several items of hardware, we conducted several flight tests. The first flight test was in November 2011 and we called it launch and missile characterization tests at that time. Very early in the program we did a first firing of the PAC-3 MSE not guided but controlled to see that the missile as a system is able to launch a missile from the PAC-3 MSE launcher which was newly developed in the program. One year later in Nov 2012 we did the first real engagement flight test. At that time, the system was set up by radar, battle manager, multifunction fire control radar a battle manager and one launcher. We successfully engaged our target, we used a specific maneuver that we called firing over the shoulder to engage a target which was in the back of the launcher.  Due to restrictions of the missile, the launch angle was 70 degrees, we demonstrated through all the flight tests that we are able to engage a target that comes from the back of the launcher. In spring 2013, we participated in the NATO exercise JPOW with that system. In November 2013 we did the last flight test that was a dual engagement flight test, and we used the full system configuration, the multifunction fire control radar, surveillance radars, the battle manager and two launchers and we engaged one ABT which was a QF4 and one TBM which was a Lance, and due to the fire doctrine for a TBM we fired 2 missiles against the TBM and one missile against the ABT. We have had a simultaneous engagement of 2 targets having 3 missiles in the air, controlling 3 missiles and successfully engaged both targets. In order to show the 360-degree capability the attack angle of the 2 targets are exactly from the opposite direction. At the end of the program in the summer in 2014, we conducted a big system demo. We demonstrated all the architectural capabilities of the system, and then finally we completed the development and design contract at the end of 2014.” 

NATO JPOW Exercise

Mr. Wlodarz shared details into the JPOW exercise, saying “It was something new at that time, to participate in a NATO exercise operation with a system which is under development. For the first time, soldiers operated MEADS in a tactical exercise, operators received a short training course before the event.” All tests for this exercise were conducted with a single German air defender operating the MEADS system. The MEADS successfully demonstrated Link 16 interoperability capabilities and the ability to rapidly resolve issues identified during JPOW event (within hours).  The event identified and prioritized opportunities for enhanced MEADS performance opportunities. Mr. Wlodarz noted that the customer declared JPOW 2013 a complete success as all defined customer objectives were achieved.

System Demonstration   

In order to provide a clear understanding, Mr. Wlodarz provided more details into the system demonstration that was conducted “Engagement on Remote means you can start an engagement against a target which is not seen by the sensors, so you get target information via Link 16 and then you can start engagement.  We demonstrated that we are able to receive target and track information from a Link 16 participant, in that case it was another Patriot system.  The total set up of that system demo was to have 3 MEADS battle elements 2 patriot fire units and one Italian Frigate in the overall network and they worked inter-operably, operating jointly in different customer defined scenarios.”   

Variable System Elements

System elements were seamlessly added and subtracted under representative combat conditions in July 2014 system demonstration: Pulse Doppler multifunction phased array, X-band, High reliability digital design, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), 360-degree coverage, Digital beamforming, 0, 15, and 30 rpm rotation, IFF subsystem, Interceptor communication link, MEADS MFCR detected, tracked, and guided PAC-3 MSEs in successful dual intercept of ABT and TBM threats, MEADS MFCR detected, tracked, and guided PAC-3 MSEs in successful dual intercept of ABT and TBM threats, 360-degree coverage, Pulse Doppler radar, Active phased array antenna, Digital beamforming, IFF subsystem, Staring and 7.5 rpm rotation.  There was a successful demonstration of dual-intercept test at White Sands Missile Range against Lance missile and ABT targets.

Additionally, Mr. Wlodarz explained details regarding the MFCR Performance Demonstration, noting the features and capability of the radar: X-band MFCR Features, active phased array technology, the ability to transmit/receive components developed in Germany, precision tracking and wideband discrimination and classification capabilities, advanced Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe, can also provide limited surveillance capabilities. These capabilities were tested in Italy and Germany with a track and cancellation of jamming signals, search, cue, and track in ground clutter and target classification using kinematic information. 

Significantly Lower Operational Cost 

One specific requirement for MEADS was to reduce the operational cost and to have as system design that uses significantly less personnel than existing systems. Mr. Wlodarz stated “Typically, in the overall cost of a system over the life cycle, 30% of the system are the acquisition costs and 70% of the system are the operational costs and sustainability. With MEADS, we are able to reduce the operational cost by half, due to the design, specific logistic features we have, specific maintenance, concept, but mainly by the fact that we can operate the system with a much higher footprint with the existing personnel. Especially for Germany it is very important as the Army is not that big and every mission that goes to a foreign country has to be approved by the parliament with a specific contingent number of personnel and troops and who they are allowed to send. It is always important to have less personnel as possible to operate that system. That was one of the drivers which finally lead to the decision to replace the aging patriot system in Germany by moving towards a completely new system design based on the MEADS development.”

The Negotiations are Proceeding with SSM

When asked to share details about discussions with Turkey regarding MEADS, Mr. Wlodarz responded “We offered the basic system configuration, which is the PAC-3 MSE as the main interceptor for TBMs, PAC-3 MSE is able to engage all kinds of targets. If you have an air breathing target at medium range for example, to engage you can use different methods. We offered to introduce existing missiles which are already in development or in service in Turkey into that system maybe as a secondary missile, to do it in a similar way as Germany did. To add specific Turkish assets to set up Turkish system configuration. That is one aspect that could bring cooperation and workshare to Turkey and the other is to participate in the completion of the program. I think also Turkey has a higher echelon level command and control system which could be integrated in the same way into the MEADS configuration as Germany did.  

We can introduce an existing missile that is 100% Turkish workshare. Same for the radar, if you want to have a second radar into the system configuration we can introduce and introduce into a system a Turkish radar. The open architecture enables each of the customers to set up their own system configuration using their own assets integrating their own vehicles, their own cryptos, their own communication systems, maybe higher echelon command and control systems but especially by plug and fight missiles, radars and sensors.”

There have been many cooperation opportunities at IDEF and prior. Mr. Wlodarz shared “We have had opportunities not only here but also with specific talks that we have already had. We see a huge cooperation potential with Turkish industry especially Aselsan and Roketsan and we have had several talks with them. In principle, we are open to discuss any field of cooperation. What I am seeing is a huge expertise also, not only the intent to cooperate but I have a clear feeling that there is a capability and the expertise to cooperate.”

Road Map for Further Development? 

“Currently we are on the way to get the contract signed for the first introduction of the system into service in Germany. We have already added compared to the original system configuration additional assets, like additional sensors, radars, electro optical sensor, radar sensors, additional missile.  That’s the first step on the roadmap compared to the original system design which was required at the end of the 90’s early 2000 when we started the development.  We have currently no dedicated roadmap of what to add in the future.  We know that the German Airforce will use the MEADS architecture as the future backbone for all air and missile and missile defense activities.  The idea is to have that as the core system and then if you go maybe to upper tier activities or operations to use that architecture as the core to set up the specific systems to have the complete layout of defense systems.” 

Plans to Test MEADS Against other TBMs? 

“It depends. The first program we will sign a contract for that is the (TLVS) in Germany, so we are currently in discussion with the German Airforce, so I can’t say if there is a test planned because there the test plan is not agreed up until now. We will see at the end of the contract negotiations next year. I would say the middle of the next year, which is mainly driven by the fact that we will have an election in September of this year and if you want to sign a new contract according to the German budget law the budget needs to be approved and in the first year after elections it takes a while to get the budget approved, usually this is done in November the year before. We expect that the budget will be approved maybe February- March next year and then they can start the formal process to get the parliamentary approval which is necessary in Germany for each big program and we expect to have the contract signed. Overall Germany is now slightly increasing their budget to come close to the 2% GDP figure. In the last year, they have increased their overall budget by 8%. The procurement in the German planning is secured the only thing is to finalize negotiation and to get the contracts signed and approved and that is mainly driven now by the fact that we have the elections in September. We expect the contract in 2018.” 

Next Generation Technology – Threats of the Future 

“The system was designed to especially engage future next generation threat. So, if you are talking about maneuvering targets that is what the system is designed for. The missile is the most capable missile; the system was especially designed to cope with this next generation threat. Very low signature maneuvering long distances. As for any development, it was funded by the 3 nations, it was executed as a NATO program that was also a unique thing that MEADS was the only full development program executed by a NATO agency and the other unique thing was that it was the only program where the development started from the very beginning based on a harmonized set of requirements.  We started with an international requirements document signed by all 3 nations and therefore the system has been funded by the 3 nations so they have a certain say with regard to IP and so on but we have in principle we have no limitations, for sure we have to be compliant with export regulations and we have to ask the nations if they allow us to do business and to use the results of the program.”  

US and Italy have not yet Made Their Final Decisions

“In 2011 the 3 nations decided not to start a joint procurement. Now the situation is that the 3 nations are very different. Germany decided to use the MEADS development results to set up the future integrated air missile defense. Italy still has a need at the Airforce side for an air and missile defense system at the class of MEADS but has some budget constraints. Currently no budget allocated. The US decided to go towards a totally different way and a different concept of operation which at the end was not compliant with MEADS, and at the end will not be compliant with the closed patriot weapon system configuration, they want to break up the system and do it in the same as we do it with MEADS but with a different implementation concept which is IPCS and for that they are still looking at what elements of MEADS could be used in this new set up. Germany clearly decided when they started the process to start it from the beginning as a national program. To be open for cooperation during the course of the development or the later stage in production or in service. That is what minister von der Leyen said when she announced the decision to go for the MEADS based solution when she said we will not be alone we are open for cooperation with different partners and for me from industrial perspective and from the set of requirements which are existing Turkey is one of the perfect partners for that as there are not so many countries where the defense industry is developed in a way to be on the same level of partner as Turkey.”