NATO wants to strengthen European air defense

NATO wants to strengthen European air defense

NATO defense ministers unveiled plans to strengthen Europe’s air defenses at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday (October 13) as Russian missiles continued to hit Ukrainian towns and villages over the past 24 hours.

Germany and more than a dozen NATO partners have announced their intention to jointly acquire air defense systems that will protect Allied territory from possible missile attacks.

«With this initiative, we are living up to our shared responsibility for security in Europe and are pooling our strengths Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said this at a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where 14 countries signed a declaration of intent.

Dubbed the European Sky Shield, the initiative aims to protect the territory of allied countries and affects almost half of NATO members, namely Germany, Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia.

The air defense systems involved in the joint acquisition are the Israeli Arrow-3 system, the American Patriot and the German IRIS-T units.

«We will quickly work on the first joint projects, which includes the joint purchase of Patriot units, as well as the modern IRIS-T systemMs. Lambrecht to reporters.

Ground-based air defense systems such as Raytheon’s Patriot units or the more recent IRIS-T are rare in many Western nations reluctant to invest too much money in military capabilities after the end of the Cold War.

While these two systems cover the middle tier of air defense, countries will also be discussing the acquisition of upper tier equipment, such as the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) (ISRAI.UL)-manufactured Arrow 3, and short-range systems that designed to protect smaller areas or military convoys.

«We must fill these gaps quickly, we live in threatening and dangerous timessaid Ms Lambrecht, who also signaled she would rather buy the Arrow 3 for the top shift.

However, France and Poland rejected the German offer to join the Shield.

While Warsaw says it prefers to build its own air defense system, France relies heavily on the deterrent effect of its own nuclear arsenal instead of opting for conventional missile defense systems.

Ahead of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting, which includes behind-closed-door talks with their nuclear planning group, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pledged, “every inch» of the territory of the members.

Missile Defense of Ukraine

At the same time, NATO allies are working to arm Ukraine with air defense systems in sufficient numbers to meet Kiev’s demands, Western officials said.

The Russian-led war in Ukraine has highlighted this shortage as Kyiv scrambles to acquire as many air defense units as possible to protect cities and critical infrastructure from Russian airstrikes.

In the past 24 hours, Russian missiles have hit more than 40 facilities, while the Ukrainian Air Force has carried out 32 strikes on 25 Russian targets, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Ukraine has also reported a spike in Russian attacks using Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, and the Kremlin has not commented.

This week Germany delivered the first of four IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine, while US President Joe Biden pledged to continue deliveries.advanced air defensefollowing his talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi earlier this week.

Officials from nearly 50 countries met in Brussels on Wednesday to coordinate how to continue meeting Kiev’s need to protect its citizens and troops from Russian attacks as part of the contact group with Ukraine.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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