Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)

- March 2016 By Kristin Horitski


Mobility Highly mobile
Role Protect against tactical or medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and aircraft
Frequency Radars work in Ultra High Frequency and X-band
Status Several countries are considering or have announced plans to purchase MEADS
Producer MEADS International (partnership of MBDA Italia, MBDA Deutschland, and Lockheed Martin)


The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is a missile defense system developed to meet International Common Operational Requirements and is jointly developed by the United States, Germany, and Italy. MEADS consists of five elements: surveillance radar, tactical operations center, multifunction fire control radar, launcher/reloader, and the certified missile round.

The surveillance radar (SR) of MEADS provides 360 degree, long range coverage with a pulse doppler radar and an active phased array antenna operating in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band. The SR is capable of detecting multiple threats, distinguishing friend from foe, and relaying data to the tactical operations center (TOC). Like the SR, the multifunction fire control radar (MFCR) provides 360 degree coverage, and uses X-band radar for target tracking and engagement. The MFCR is only engaged when required by the system to track and intercept a target. Both the SR and MFCR are light weight and highly maneuverable enabling quick and easy deployment.

The battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BMC4I) TOC provides real-time links for battle management, engagement, and force operations. The TOC features a common software package tailored for each nation and is interoperable with external interfaces such as Airborne C3 Systems, Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS), Joint Tactical Ground Stations/Multi-Mission Mobile Processor (JTAGS M3P), and Ground-based and Naval Air Defense Systems (ADS).

The MEADS launcher holds up to eight PAC-3 MSE missiles and can be elevated to a near-vertical launch angle. The reloader for the launcher can perform a full or partial reload and features a pallet load handling and erection system. Both the launcher and reloader can be integrated with each country’s preferred transport vehicle. The certified missile round (CMR) or baseline missile for MEADS is the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE). The PAC-3 MSE features increased performance and greater altitude and range over earlier models.

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