In 2019, the US and Israel tested an Arrow 3 missile in Alaska.
Because of the threat from Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (64) wants to turn Europe into a fortress. In a speech in Prague, he spoke of a joint air defense that would be a “security gain for all of Europe”. Reason: A joint approach would be more efficient and cost-effective.
Scholz announced that Germany would invest significantly in air defense in the coming years. This should be designed from the start in such a way that European neighbors could participate. Specifically, he named the Netherlands, Poland, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and partners in Scandinavia.
In Europe, there is “a lot of catching up to do” in defense against threats from the air and from space, said Scholz. All new capabilities should also be usable within the NATO framework. The money for the German investments could come from the already announced 100 billion euro pot that Scholz wants to use to modernize and strengthen the German army in the coming years.
Protection with Arrow 3
What could a European air defense system look like? According to former Bundeswehr Colonel Ralph D. Thiele (68), President of Eurodefense (Germany) and an expert at the Institute for Strategy, Political, Security and Economic Consulting in Berlin, the Arrow 3 system is in the foreground.
This system, developed by the United States and Israel, can intercept medium- and long-range ballistic missiles with anti-aircraft missiles – outside the atmosphere. The rockets are fired from a range of up to 2,400 kilometers by mobile launchers connected to a mobile radar station.
Also known is the Iron Dome system, which is successfully used in Israel. However, this is aimed at very short-range rockets and artillery ammunition, primarily from the Gaza Strip. It would not be effective in protecting Europe.
Germany plans to introduce Arrow 3 for around two billion euros. “If other states attach themselves, we will soon have a good defensive bell over Europe, which can also protect against a threat from distant countries such as Iran, China and North Korea, as well as from space,” says Thiele.
Development in the direction of lasers
A problem for Arrow 3, however, are the most modern weapons such as the Russian hypersonic missiles. Because of such threats, the defense would have to be further developed. Thiele: “The technology is moving in the direction of defense with lasers.”
Today’s defense systems in Europe are completely inadequate, says Thiele. “There is an open airspace that is vulnerable to modern attacks.”
Germany is currently using the Stinger anti-aircraft missile for close range and combating aircraft and helicopters, which was also fired into Ukraine for a shoulder launch. At medium distances, the larger Patriot system works up to an altitude of 30 kilometers.
Switzerland would benefit
Switzerland also has some catching up to do, says Thiele: “Switzerland has many bright minds, but its technology is rotten. She invests far too little.” He is convinced that Switzerland would also benefit from a common European air defense system.
Thiele: “It would be an opportunity for Switzerland to connect to a common system and to defend itself against attackers as a group.”