NATO states back German-led anti-missile shield for Europe

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At least 15 countries mainly of the NATO military alliance, including the UK and the Netherlands, have signed a letter of intent to join a long-term German project to create a European anti-missile shield that would boost protection for much of the continent.

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The system will have several layers to intercept various kinds of missiles from different heights, possibly linking up Israeli Arrow 3 air-defense systems as well as US-made Patriots and German Iris-Ts, and would be fully deployable through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The countries, which include Germany, the Baltic States, Finland, Norway and others, “want to jointly tackle this effort to close the gaps in air defense, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels. “It’s about being inter operable, it’s about being able to set prices, it’s about being able to support each other, so it’s a win-win situation for the countries that are part of it.

Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic as well as Slovenia and Belgium also signed on to the plan, according to a person familiar with the issue.

Lambrecht pointed to increased security risks in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related threats made by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We have to move quickly now, she said. “It’s important that those gaps (in our defense) are closed because we all see in which times we are all living in, these are dangerous and challenging times.

Lambrecht said other countries may also eventually join the plan, which is still in its early stages. It has to overcome production bottlenecks and delivery delays at many companies in the private sector. “We are open to everyone and know that many countries are interested, Lambrecht said, adding Germany had already entered into negotiations.

The German defense chief said last month that the Arrow 3 system, should it be chosen, wouldn’t become operational until 2025 at the earliest. “Should we decide in favor of the system and conclude contracts right now, and should the industry then also be able to deliver immediately, then ideally we could start training next year, Lambrecht said in an interview with the Funke media group.

The anti-missile shield was first announced by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a speech in Prague in August, when he said the country would invest significantly in its air defense over coming years as the continent had “a lot of catching up to do. He said such an integrated system would be more efficient and cost-effective than if each nation built its own complex systems.

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