Berlin is considering buying a missile defense system from Israel or the United States to defend against threats such as Russian Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, the German weekly Welt am Sonntag reported on Saturday.
Iskander missiles can reach almost all of Western Europe and there is no missile shield in place to protect against this threat, German defense chief Eberhard Zorn told Welt am Sonntag in an interview published on Saturday.
“The Israelis and the Americans have such systems. Which do we prefer? Will we be able to establish a comprehensive (missile defense) system within NATO? These are the questions we need to answer now,” Zorn said, according to Reuters.
He did not specify the names of the systems but was most likely referring to Arrow 3 built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the American THAAD system produced by Raytheon.
Russia said in 2018 that it had deployed Iskander missiles in its enclave of Kaliningrad, a slice of Russia wedged between Poland and Lithuania. A mobile ballistic missile system, the Iskander replaced the Soviet Scud missile and its two guided missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
In a historic speech days after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin would increase defense spending to more than 2% of economic output by injecting 100 billion euros (110 billion dollars) in the army.
Zorn belongs to a group of senior officials who consult Scholz on how to spend that money.
“So far, only one thing is clear: we have neither the time nor the money to develop these (missile defense) systems on our own because the missile threat is known to be already there,” he said. Zorn said.
Referring to Germany’s lack of short-range missile defense, which can be used to protect troops on the move or under threat during their deployment, he said Berlin had started to consider purchasing such systems. and that he now had to make a decision.
Beyond that, the Bundeswehr will need to invest 20 billion euros by 2032 to replenish its ammunition stocks, Zorn added.