Germany is looking at buying an Israeli anti-missile shield system that could also offer protective cover for neighboring EU states, parliamentary sources said Sunday, as Russia’s invasion prompts Berlin to ramp up its defense.
While the decision has not been finalized, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, which lead a three-way coalition, are in favor, said Bild daily.
“We must better protect ourselves against the Russian threat. To do that, we need quickly an anti-missile shield for Germany,” said Andreas Schwarz of the SPD, who sits on the parliamentary budget committee.
“The Israeli Arrow 3 system is a good solution,” he told Bild daily, referring to the long-range missile interceptor weapon.
According to Bild, the system, which costs two billion euros ($2.2 billion), could be operational from 2025.
The corresponding radar system would be installed in three sites in Germany, and their monitoring data then transmitted to a central site where soldiers will be watching for threats 24/7.
If a rocket attack is uncovered, an Arrow 3 would be sent up to intercept the missile in space, destroying it there.
The radar system is so powerful it can provide cover for Poland, Romania and the Baltic nations, said Bild.
“We can put the ‘Iron Dome’ over our neighboring countries. We would then play a key role for the security of Europe,” said Schwarz, apparently mistakenly using the name of another Israeli missile defense system, the short-range Iron Dome.
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who chairs the parliamentary defense committee, confirmed that Berlin was mulling the purchase.
“Given the threat situation and the different weapons systems that Russia has, of course you have to look at that, so in that sense it makes sense,” she told Welt newspaper.
After years of under-investment in defense, Germany has announced a dramatic U-turn, shaken by Russia’s assault on its neighbor.
Scholz on February 27 in a landmark speech said Germany would earmark a special budget of 100 billion euros to bolster its defense capabilities.
He also said Berlin will spend more than two percent of its output a year on defense, outstripping NATO’s target of two percent which Germany has consistently failed to meet.
Israeli Arrow 3 Weapon System
The Arrow 3 or Hetz 3 interceptor is part of an exoatmospheric hypersonic anti-ballistic Arrow Weapon System, jointly funded and produced by Israel and the United States. Arrow 3 is the world’s first operational, national, stand-alone ATBM (Anti Tactical Ballistic Missiles) defense system. Arrow 3 is an exo-atmospheric interceptor for long-range threat engagement. Arrow 3 interceptor can achieve multi-tier defense with current Arrow Weapon System reaches near zero-leakage-rate.
The Arrow 3, or a similar system, could be operational by 2025 and cost $2.2 billion, according to the Bild report. According to the Missile Defence Advocacy Alliance, a US-based lobby group, a battery has a price tag of $170 million, with each interceptor costing around $3 million. Training, maintenance, and operational costs come on top over the course of the system’s lifespan.
The new radar and sensors component will also require the integration of longer-range detection, tracking and discrimination capability beyond what the “Green Pine” and “Super Green Pine” radars employed with the Arrow 2 are providing. Among the advanced sensors considered for Israel’s future multi-tier system, are airborne electro-optical sensors deployed on high flying unmanned aerial vehicles and future enhanced “Green Pine” radars, as well as the state-of-the-art AN/TPY-2 radar already deployed in Israel and operated by U.S. forces.
According to numerous Israeli experts, including Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, former director of the Israeli Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure and currently the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, it is also possible that the Arrow 3 could serve as an anti-satellite weapon.
Insufficient at countering intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can span the globe, Andreas Flocken, a security analyst, told public broadcaster NDR, that the Arrow is designed for medium-range weapons with a range of 1,500 kilometers. Russia has such missiles stationed in Kaliningrad, he said, Russian territory separated from Russia by Poland and Lithuania, less than 700 kilometers from Berlin.
President Vladimir Putin has liked to talk up his country’s hypersonic capabilities, and U.S. officials have confirmed such missiles have been used in Ukraine. Still, opinion is mixed about just how potent Putin’s hypersonic program is. Azerbaijani Army’s Arrow 3 anti-air system had successfully intercepted Russian-made hypersonic ballistic missiles during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Arrow 3 interceptor is an excellent threat neutralizer for Russian ballistic missiles and hypersonic weapons.
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