The NATO Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) management agency has rejected a Raytheon protest filed after Lockheed Martin's selection as the US participant in the international medium-range battlefield air defence system.

Raytheon has three options. It can drop the matter, file a formal protest with the US General Accounting Office, which reviews US contract awards, or it can seek a decision from a panel of MEADS participants, Germany, Italy and the USA.

The US company was notified of the NATO MEADS Organisation (NAMEADSMO) decision late last month and has until 18 August to decide on its next move, says Raytheon.

Raytheon filed its complaint after Lockheed Martin was selected in June to work with Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and Italy's Alenia in the MEADS International joint venture. Raytheon will not disclose the reasons for its protest, and NAMEADSMO did not say why the protest was dismissed.

MEADS International has begun research studies, but future funding for the $12 billion highly mobile air defence system is being held up as US lawmakers debate the need for MEADS. The three nations have earmarked $300 million for a three-year risk reduction effort.

The team is to demonstrate a prototype system in 2002. The hit-to-kill Lockheed Martin Vought Systems Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missile will be used as part of MEADS, which is designed to offer 360° protection against theatre ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and unmanned vehicles.

Source: Flight International