In response to the heightened security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany, alongside nine other nations, has accelerated its collaborative efforts to procure air defence systems, including the likes of Patriot, IRIS-T, and Arrow 3, reports Reuters. This move signifies a shift in the defence strategy of these NATO allies, as they urgently seek to address the vulnerabilities in their air defence capabilities.
During a recent defence ministers’ meeting held at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, several countries, namely Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, and the Netherlands, penned an agreement. This pact establishes the legal groundwork necessary for the anticipated purchases. Together with Germany, Latvia, and Slovenia, which had committed earlier, these nations constitute a collective of ten countries looking to champion joint procurement efforts. These efforts fall under the umbrella of the German-led European Sky Shield Initiative, involving a total of 19 nations.
Germany’s Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius, projects that the initial agreements will materialise within the forthcoming three to four months. The focus of these agreements will be ground-based air defence systems, such as the Patriot by Raytheon or the IRIS-T by German manufacturer Diehl. These systems are specifically designed to counter and intercept inbound missiles.
Post-Cold War, many NATO allies had reduced their air defence units, driven by the belief that missile threats from nations like Iran were minimal. However, Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine have fundamentally altered this perception. In the wake of the invasion, NATO members not only sought to reinforce their own defence gaps but also provided Ukraine with the sought-after systems.
Launched a year ago, the European Sky Shield Initiative encompasses 19 countries, including the UK, Baltic states, and several East European nations. The primary goal of this initiative is to purchase established air defence solutions instead of investing time and resources in developing new systems. This strategy aims to expedite procurement processes, given the immediate security challenges.
Yet, this move hasn’t been without its critics. Germany’s approach has notably ruffled feathers in France. Preferring the development of European systems, France has chosen not to participate in the initiative. French authorities argue that this strategy inadvertently fosters new dependencies on the nations and corporations producing these defence systems.
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