The defense ministers of 14 European NATO member states, plus Finland, on Thursday (10/13) signed a “letter of intent” to jointly acquire air defense systems that protect the Allies’ territory from missiles. The project called “European Sky Shield Initiative” led by Germany.
It was signed on the sidelines of a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The initiative calls on countries to consider purchasing advanced Patriot and Eris T systems, according to German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.
“These are times full of danger and challenge,” the German minister said after signing the letter. “We need to fill these gaps quickly.”
Berlin this week delivered the first of the four Iris-T SLM systems to Ukraine, but the German armed forces themselves do not have this system in stock. At the same time, Berlin wants to increase the number of Patriots it has.
The Iris-T, considered by some experts as one of the most modern weapons in the world, was developed by the German arms company Diehl Defense based in Überlingen.
While the Patriot and Iris-T missiles are medium-range air defense, countries will also discuss the acquisition of high-range systems, such as the Arrow 3, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and short-range systems designed for protection. Smaller areas or military convoys, eg.
The push for a European air defense system comes as Russia launches missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, nearly eight months after starting its war against its pro-Western neighbor.
NATO explained in a statement that the initiative aims to create a European air and missile defense system through the joint acquisition of equipment by European countries. According to the organization, the project will strengthen the integrated air and missile defense of NATO.
“This commitment is even more important today because we are witnessing relentless and indiscriminate missile strikes on Ukraine, killing civilians and destroying critical infrastructure,” said NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Guiwana.
Giwana praised Germany’s “leadership” in this project and said that its new assets, “interoperable and seamlessly integrated into NATO’s air and missile defense, will significantly enhance our ability to defend the alliance from all air and missile threats.”
France and Poland are excluded
France and Poland have not joined the initiative, although a French source was quoted by AFP as saying it was an “excellent initiative” and acknowledging that NATO “needs anti-aircraft, anti-missile and drone defense systems”.
Paris argues that its Mamba medium-range ground-to-air defense system has now been fully integrated into the NATO Air Command chain of control, while Warsaw has said it intends to install its own air defense system.
MD (AFP, Reuters, Lusa)
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