BERLIN --- Germany's defense ministry on Tuesday told lawmakers it would not complete a contract with European weapons maker MBDA for a multi-billion euro missile defense system during the current legislative period as planned, ministry sources said.
Ministry officials remain committed to concluding a contract with MBDA for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) to replace the Patriot air and missile defense system but said there was still work to do on the MBDA proposal, as well as on how the overall project would be managed, the sources said.
Regardless of the MEADS outcome, the ministry plans to spend several hundred million euros to modernize the software and hardware of the German military's existing Patriot system, which was built by Raytheon Co., the sources said.
Coming at a time when NATO is beefing up its presence in eastern Europe due to fears of about a greater military threat from Russia, MEADS extends the coverage of protection and offers enhanced air and missile defense from a range of threats.
The delay in the MEADS project marks another setback for Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has sought to reform Germany's troubled weapons procurement process since taking office in late 2013. A second multi-billion euro program to build a new multi-role ship has also been delayed.
Germany selected MEADS in 2015 to replace its Patriot system but it has taken far longer than expected to move forward. (end of excerpt)
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