Until recently, Poland’s Wisla medium-range air defense contest appeared to be locked up, with the Raytheon Patriot and its re-engineered 360° AESA radar looking poised to win. Now, the competing MEADS team has been granted a renewed opportunity.
Poland recently invited the MEADS International consortium, of which Lockheed Martin is a member, to present an updated offer for the Wisla program. MEADS followed through with a presentation in the final week of January.
The MEADS air defense program endured a tumultuous path to production. The program started out as a joint development effort among France, Germany, Italy, and the United States, but France exited the program prior to the project definition and validation Memorandum of Understanding. After a development duration of over a decade, the U.S. announced in 2011 that it would remain through the proof of concept phase but would not participate beyond that point. Germany also voiced its desire to leave the program.
Eventually, a MEADS product was designed, developed, and successfully tested. The air defense system featured a 360° field-of-view AESA radar known as the Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR). However, by the close of 2014, the U.S. had exited all program activities and announced that it would not be procuring the system. The loss of a potential U.S. purchase dealt a devastating blow to MEADS’ production prospects.
A lifeline was extended in June 2015 when Germany and Lockheed Martin jointly announced that the MEADS system would form the basis for Germany’s next-generation, network-based, tactical air and missile defense system, the Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS). If MEADS could secure a deal with Poland, the embattled program’s outlook would pivot from slowly solidifying to stable and lucrative.