Salina (WSYR-TV) -- Defense cuts are threatening a new age multi-million dollar defense system being built at Lockheed Martin, along with hundreds of jobs.
About 200 jobs in Salina depend on the program, building what they call MEADS, an acronym for Medium Extended Air Defense System. It's a mobile air defense system that’s designed to spot incoming missles and shoot them down.
Lockheed Martin says it’s being made to replace the Patriot Missile System. In an important test just last week, a MEADS missile was deliberately fired in the wrong direction to intercept an incoming missile. It made a quick turn and hit its target in time, something the patriot missile system can’t do.
They’re just one year away from completing MEADS, so it’s a puzzle to Lockheed Martin and New York Senator Chuck Schumer that the last bit of money to finish MEADS was taken out of the proposed defense budget.
“The argument against the program is that there’s another way to do it, there’s another way to do it that’s cheaper, but it’s totally ineffective and when you’re dealing with our safety and our air defense, you don’t want to cut corners,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer says he’s lining up the support in the Senate to get the last $400-million needed to complete MEADS back into the budget.
In a statement, Lockheed Martin spokesman Troy Scully says that the company remains cautiously optimistic that money for MEADS will be put back into the defense budget. He said, “The program has met every milestone and remains on cost following program revisions in 2009.”