As the looks toward the possible end of its commitment to ’s (Meads), a report to Congress indicates the U.S. Army is planning to invest heavily in upgrading its current Patriot air and cruise missile defense system.
Next week, the House Armed Services Committee will consider a bill that would shut down funding for the program that the U.S. works on in partnership with Germany and Italy. And members of the Senate Armed Services Committee initiated the process of scaling back the program last year.
Defunding Meads would remove the U.S. from the program one year before fulfilling its contractual commitment, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has vowed to uphold. And congressional attempts to block Meads are not going over well on the other side of the Atlantic.
Asked about the recent activity on Capitol Hill, Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, the head of the Italian military, stressed the need for the U.S. to meet its end of the bargain.
“If you pull out now … you leave allies with a hand in front, a hand in the back,” Di Paola said after a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I don’t think it is fair.”
Di Paola said that although the U.S. and Europe often talk about working together, Meads is one of the few areas in which the U.S. and Europe actually collaborate. Given that both sides have invested money, which by European standards is “very sizable,” the U.S. should respect the commitment to complete the program through the end of the concept design phase.
“A deal is a deal. It’s a deal for you, it’s a deal for me,” Di Paola says.
Although the Pentagon has been adamant that it wants to provide funding for Meads, it is also trying to follow through on last year’s defense authorization act, which required the Pentagon to craft a plan that would make fiscal 2012 the final year of funding for the program. (See pp. 6-8 for charts on Meads’ funding history.)
A Pentagon report submitted to Congress by Frank Kendall, acting acquisition chief, on April 26 charts an ongoing exchange between the U.S., German and Italian governments in which the U.S. tried and failed to propose a program revamp consistent with last year’s legislation.
And the report, first obtained by InsideDefense.com, also takes a look at the U.S. backup plan, the Army’s plan to upgrade thePatriot system from 2013 to 2017. In fiscal 2013, the Army plans to spend $398.3 million. But that will jump to $933.7 million in fiscal 2014 and $974.8 million by fiscal 2017.