Germany hopes to use Israel’s air defense systems as part of NATO’s Sky Shield

Written by on November 3, 2022

As Germany pushes forward in its procurement of Israel’s Arrow-3 air defense system, Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin on the proposal that if allowed would be the largest defense deal in Israeli history, reaching a sum of 3 billion euros.

Gantz spoke with Austin late Wednesday night about the developments in the proposal that would see Jerusalem sell the ballistic air defense system to Berlin, the first time that the system is sold to an international customer.

According to a report on the Calcalistech news site, Boeing will be responsible for manufacturing certain parts of the interceptor. Germany will also purchase American Patriot surface-to-air missiles as part of the 3 billion euro deal.

Germany has requested that the first Arrow System be operational in the country by 2025.

What is the Arrow System?

A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022. (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The Arrow-3, one of Israel’s most advanced air defense systems, is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles at altitudes of over 100 km. and with a reported range of up to 2,400 km. The system, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, includes components developed in the United States, which has invested billions into the system.

The acquisition of the system is expected to be part of the European development of a joint air defense program named European Sky Shield Initiative which will involve 14 NATO member countries-Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, and the United Kingdom. Finland, whose application to NATO is pending, will also take part.

A Letter of Intent was signed in October in Brussels initiating the development of the Sky Shield, which is being spearheaded by Berlin and aims to create a European air defense system through the common acquisition of air defense equipment and missiles by European nations. The system would field off threats at close range such as drones, as well as medium-to-long-range threats like ballistic and cruise missiles.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made an initial request for the system when he met with then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in March. And while Israel approved the sale, according to a report by JNS the delay in the export is due to a lack of approval by the United States which has previously denied requests by other countries to purchase the system.

But, the war in Ukraine has spurred a reset of NATO posture, with allies significantly increasing their defense budget as well as sending military capabilities to Ukraine or neighboring countries. It has also raised hopes that Washington will green-light the sale of the Arrow-3 to Berlin.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said that the creation of a European missile defense initiative was “crucial” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“It is important that things now move quickly with regard to the procurement of Patriots, with regard to the procurement of Iris-T, and, of course, with regard to the procurement of a defense system that goes beyond that,” he said, referring to the Arrow-3.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany increased its defense budget to two percent of the GDP and said it would set up a special fund of €100 billion ($108b.) in order to swiftly upgrade its armed forces.

It is understood that Israel will play a key role in helping Germany’s force buildup.

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