Scholz rekindles vision of German-led air defense network in Europe
WASHINGTON — Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would spend “significantly” on air defense in the coming years, offering a German-led weapons architecture that other European nations could plug into.
His comments during a speech on August 29 at Charles University in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, outlined the German government’s renewed vision to defend the EU from the air after the invasion of Ukraine. by Russia.
Officials spoke of a “German Shield” concept, with different countermeasures for threats at different altitudes and distances – low, medium and higher – linked to the combat management system of the ground-air operations center of ‘Airbus.
The SAMOC system can assemble components from NATO and non-NATO states, Airbus said on its website. Current user countries are Germany, Hungary and Saudi Arabia.
The German and Dutch military have combined their air defense equipment in previous exercises. Scholz mentioned Poland, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic and the Scandinavian countries as other countries to integrate.
Earlier this year, German air force officials began purchasing a next-level defense system, backed by parliament’s support for Israel’s Arrow-3 weapon. Although initial enthusiasm for such a move has since waned, the plan is still on the table.
Officials admit an Arrow-3 purchase could emphasize the country’s technical acquisition requirements optimized for NATO and EU standards while doing little to allay concerns about the threat Russian Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad.
For the lower level defense layer, local firms Rheinmetall, Hensoldt and Diehl Defense teamed up last year with a package based on Diehl’s Iris-T SLM interceptor. MBDA and others have also begun to market highly mobile defense systems aimed specifically at small drones.
In the medium-range segment, which targets fast jets and missiles, Germany has sought a leadership role with a Patriot replacement weapon called TLVS, short for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem. Officials canceled the program last year, fearing the required investment would divert funds from a dedicated anti-drone target.
The fallout from the move could further undermine German aspirations for a leadership position in air defense, said Christian Mölling, research director at the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations.
“For many years, Europeans hoped that Germany would take the lead because the area of air defense was considered politically uncontroversial,” Mölling said in an interview.
Because Berlin decided to scrap the next-generation program, other nations looked elsewhere and simply ordered upgrades for their Patriot fleets, he added.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, as well as US-European cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. Previously, he was editor of Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.