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Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government approved Wednesday night the development of an ambitious new air defense system, ending months of wrangling in his coalition and paving the way for better ties with the United States.
The Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS, is a joint project developed and funded by the United States, which holds a 58 percent stake. Germany holds 25 percent and Italy 17 percent.
"The Patriot system is reaching the limits of what it can provide in terms of protection," said a senior defense official who asked for anonymity. "Peacekeeping involves danger. It is our duty to provide the maximum protection to our troops. We are confident MEADS will meet those needs."
The official said that MEADS had several advantages over the Patriot system, including greater mobility and flexibility, as well as advanced radar systems with 360 degrees of coverage, which the official said would provide better protection for the transportation of troops and equipment.