A critical design review for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) hardware being developed by Germany, Italy and the US has successfully been completed.

The completion of the CDR will now allow the programme to move towards system tests and the production of radars, launchers, tactical operation centres and reloaders at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

MEADS is a 360-degree air coverage medium-range air defence system, intended to replace the ageing Patriot Missile systems in the US and Germany and the Nike Hercules system in Italy.

MEADS will integrate the hit-to-kill PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement Missile in a system that includes surveillance and fire control sensors, netted-distributed battle management centres and high-firepower launchers.

MEADS programme executive vice-president Klaus Riedel said the system will protect combat forces and critical assets against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and unmanned aerial systems.

The system will undergo 15 system-level CDR events in 2010 followed by final system-level CDR in August 2010, while the initial flight tests are scheduled for 2012.

The participating companies in the design and development of MEADS include MBDA in Italy, LFK in Germany and Lockheed Martin in the US, which have formed a multinational joint venture headquartered in Orlando, Florida.