THE USA, Germany, Italy and France have informally invited the UK, to join the medium extended air defence system (MEADS) missile project.

The MEADS partners' overtures towards the UK have come to light in the Parliamentary Defence Committee's report into the 1995 Defence Estimates.

According to an UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) memorandum to the committee, "...the current partners have made it clear that the door is open to us should we wish to join. We are certainly looking at MEADS very seriously."

The UK had intended to procure a theatre-defence system under the auspices of Staff Target (Air) 1235 for a medium surface-to-air missile. This programme was shelved because there was no short-term requirement.

Instead, the MoD awarded a pre-feasibility study to a British Aerospace-led team to examine longer-term options.

The MEADS project is " of the options being explored as part of the UK pre-feasibility study". The MoD "...will decide whether to pursue participation in the MEADS programme once we have considered our own needs and considered the full range of options".

Source: Flight International