NATO: 14 countries agreed on joint procurement of air defense systems

Germany and 13 other NATO member countries are aiming to jointly procure air defense systems that would protect the alliance’s territory from missiles, and among their options are the Israeli Arrow-3, the American Patriot and the German IRIS-T. “With this initiative, we are living up to our shared responsibility for security in Europe – pooling our resources,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said during a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where the 14 countries signed a letter of intent.

Estonia was not present at the ceremony, but will also participate in the initiative called “European Sky Shield”. This initiative includes a total of half of NATO’s members: Germany, Great Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia. Ground-based air defense systems such as the Patriot or IRIS-T are lacking in many Western nations, which have been reluctant to invest too much money in military capabilities since the end of the Cold War

Russia’s war in Ukraine has highlighted this shortage, as Kyiv scrambles to acquire as many air defense units as it can to protect cities and critical infrastructure from Russian airstrikes. Lambrecht said the countries are looking to move quickly on the first agreements. “We will work rapidly on the first joint programs, the joint purchase of Patriot modules is one of them as well as the modern IRIS-T system,” the German minister told reporters. IRIS-T is manufactured by Germany’s Diehl.

This week Berlin delivered the first of four IRIS-T SLM systems to Ukraine, but the German armed forces themselves do not have this system. At the same time, Berlin wants to increase the number of Patriot units it has. The countries will also discuss the procurement of systems such as the Arrow-3, produced by Israel’s IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) and dealing with threats in the upper layers of the atmosphere, as well as short-range systems to protect smaller areas or military convoys, for example .

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“We need to fill these gaps quickly, we live in threatening, dangerous times,” said Lambrecht, who also noted that she would prefer to buy Arrow-3 for the upper atmosphere. “No decision has been made yet, but I think (Arrow-3) is the right system, … that it would be a very good system for the challenge we face in Europe,” he noted.

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