Myth vs Fact

MYTH: MEADS is on time.

FACT: According to the Pentagon, “The MEADS program has experienced a number of technical and management challenges since its inception in the mid-1990’s….According to program plans from the mid-1990’s, MEADS was originally slated to begin production in 2007.”  The design and development phase alone was extended for 2.5 years.  Now, the earliest production could begin is 2014 and it would not be operational until 2018.

MYTH: MEADS is on budget.

FACT: MEADS has cost overruns of more than $2 billion, with some estimates as high as $2.8 billion.  Future costs would include several hundred million dollars to establish interoperability with Army command and control systems, and $100 million for testing costs, which have not been budgeted.  In 2011, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall told Congress, “[MEADS] has gotten into developmental problems, cost overruns in the development phase that have caused us to question whether or not it should continue.”

MYTH: Developing MEADS will save taxpayers money.

FACT: In total, the U.S. and its partner countries will spend $4 billion on a system that the Army does not want and the Pentagon will never use. By eliminating MEADS in 2012, the U.S. government could save taxpayers nearly $16 billion or more when you take into account the cost to field the system. When asked about why the Pentagon would end MEADS before production, Under Secretary Kendall told the Senate, “It was largely an affordability decision.”

MYTH: MEADS will provide the U.S. Army with new capabilities.

FACT: The military value placed on MEADS by the Department of Defense has changed due to concerns over the program’s capabilities, spiraling costs, and an increased emphasis on finding savings.  In fact, a secret Army memo obtained by the Washington Post revealed this assessment of the program: MEADS “will not meet U.S. requirements or address the current and emerging threat without extensive and costly modifications.”

MYTH: MEADS is meeting key performance standards and requirements.

FACT: In its annual weapon system assessment of MEADS for 2011, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the program requested and was granted relief from several specifications for C-130 and helicopter transport and the program fails to meet NATO road requirements. Additionally, the report revealed MEADS was at risk of not meeting assembly, disassembly, and emplacement times, the single greatest impact on manpower requirements. In conclusion, the GAO reported that MEADS program officials remain concerned about “requirements satisfaction, software maturity, and cost growth.”

MYTH: MEADS had its first successful test in November 2011.

FACT: The dubious MEADS test did not consist of hitting a live target.  The missile was fired off into the air and then declared a success.  When the missile isn’t required to hit a live target, there is no sure way to prove that the test was successful.