Money for the final year of a missile system that supports a few hundred jobs for a defense contractor near Syracuse has been removed from Congress' defense budget. But Lockheed Martin is keeping optimistic that the money could find its way back into the budget.
The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is entering its final year of development, Lockheed Martin spokesman Troy Scully says. The company was looking for about $400 million more to finish the work.
"We remain cautiously optimistic that the needed funds will be provided to complete the MEADS program," Scully says.
Scully says the MEADS contract is one of the larger for the Lockheed Martin Salina site, which works on the radar components of the system. A few hundred people work at least in part on the project, Scully says. The site employs 1,900 people in all.
The MEADS system is being designed as a possible replacement to the Patriot missile defense system. It's a joint project between the United States, Germany and Italy.
MEADS is a mobile unit able to shoot down incoming enemy rockets or unmanned systems.
The system completed a successful test just last week, but that wasn't enough to convince Congress to continue funding the project. The program was pulled from the Defense Authorization Act of 2013 by the Senate earlier this week.
The House and Senate versions of the bill will have to be reconciled before going to the White House for final approval. Scully says there's a chance the money could be replaced during that process.
The bill passed the Senate by a 98-0 vote. But on Thursday Sen. Charles Schumer, the senior Democratic senator for New York, called for money for MEADS to be put back into the budget.
If the contract is canceled, there is a potential for layoffs at the Salina site, Scully says.