Will Israel supply Germany with the 'Arrow-3' missile defense system?

Should Germany buy the system, it would mark the first time that it has been sold to another country.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with CENTCOM commander General Michael Kurilla during a meeting at CENTCOM headquarters in Florida, August 26, 2022 (photo credit: John Onuoha/CENTCOM)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with CENTCOM commander General Michael Kurilla during a meeting at CENTCOM headquarters in Florida, August 26, 2022
(photo credit: John Onuoha/CENTCOM)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday spoke with his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht and discussed strengthening the defense cooperation between the two countries, including pushing forward the sale of the Arrow-3 air defense system.

In the phone call with the German Federal Minister of Defense, Gantz also spoke about the importance of maintaining stability in the Middle East and the implications of the war in Ukraine as well as the role of the international community to bring it to an end.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany increased its defense budget to two percent of the GDP and said it would set up a special fund of €100 billion ($108b.) in order to swiftly upgrade its armed forces.

As part of that, Reuters reported that the German Air Force will reportedly get €40b., €27b. of which will be spent on upgrading command and control capabilities. In addition, the army will get €17b. and the navy will receive €10b.

It is understood that Israel will play a key role in helping Germany’s force buildup.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz address the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz address the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)

In April, the head of the German Air Force  Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, told The Jerusalem Post that Berlin won approval from Jerusalem and Washington to purchase the Arrow 3 missile defense system.

Vying for the Iron Dome

German legislators have pushed to buy Israel’s Iron Dome system to ward off aerial threats, and Gerhartz told the Post that the Arrow-3 is the most relevant system for the threats facing the European nation.

“The Iron Dome is used for short-range threats and we have quite a capable industry back home, and we will procure systems for that,” said Gerhartz following a visit to Israel.

“And for higher interceptors, we have the Patriot weapons system that we will modernize.” But “if it means [threats at a range of] 15,000 meters [which] is exoatmospheric, [over 130 km. high] we don’t have anything – and that is why I had a close look at the Arrow 3 and we are really interested in the system.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made an initial request for the system when he met with then Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in March. And while Israel approved the sale, according to a report by JNS the delay in the export is due to a lack of approval by the United States.

What is the Arrow-3 capable of?

The Arrow-3, one of Israel’s most advanced air defense systems, is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles at altitudes of over 100 km. and with a reported range of up to 2,400 km. The system, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, includes components developed in the United States, which has invested billions into the system.

Should Germany buy the system, it would mark the first time that it has been sold to another country.

According to the report in JNS, the precedent of selling such a system to a third country is one of the reasons why Washington has yet to greenlight the sale.

A leader in defense, the world has for many years looked to the Jewish state for security and intelligence. Israel’s defense industry has leading international companies exporting to countries across the globe.

Israeli defense industries have in recent years tried to sell Israel’s high-quality combat-proven missile defense systems abroad with the government’s permission. 

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has sold the SPYDER system that provides short, medium, and long-range protection against a range of threats to countries like the Czech Republic, Philippines and United Arab Emirates, but the Arrow-3 intercepts ballistic threats in space.