Dozen NATO allies aim for joint air defense systems such as Israel's Arrow 3

Germany, Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Czechia, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia took part in the considerations,

SPYDER quick reaction air defense system of Indian Air Force firing a Derby missile (photo credit: INDIAN AIR FORCE/EDICTGOV-INDIA/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
SPYDER quick reaction air defense system of Indian Air Force firing a Derby missile
(photo credit: INDIAN AIR FORCE/EDICTGOV-INDIA/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Germany and 13 NATO allies on Thursday signed a letter of intent for the joint procurement of air defense systems in the category of systems such as Israel's Arrow 3 and the US Patriot.

The signing ceremony took place at NATO's headquarters in Brussels. The participating countries are Germany, Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Czechia, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia.

Germany and Spain take collaborative action

Spain and Germany will discuss plans for a German-led, joint missile defense system at a summit in Spain on Wednesday, the German ambassador to Spain said in an interview with the Cadena SER radio station.

But the Spanish government denied that the topic was on the agenda.

 German Air Force  Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz. (credit: LUFTWAFFE) German Air Force  Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz. (credit: LUFTWAFFE)

"It is an issue that will certainly be discussed at the summit," Ambassador Maria Margarete Gosse said late on Tuesday, adding that there had already been "low-level" talks between the two NATO members about Spain joining the initiative.

However, the Spanish government denied having received "any proposal or communication in this regard" in a statement released on Wednesday ahead of the meeting between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

They are due to meet, along with senior ministers, in the northern Spanish city of La Coruna later on Wednesday.

The German embassy told Reuters that the topic would "definitely" be on the summit agenda although a German government spokesman told Reuters it was "not clear" if the topic would be touched on in the meeting.

Scholz first proposed establishing a joint missile defense system in August, in a speech in Prague, describing the proposal as "a security gain for the whole of Europe."

In September, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a Reuters interview that Berlin aimed to strike a deal with other NATO countries on the air defense system at a meeting in Brussels on Oct. 12-13.

Germany was still negotiating with possible partners for the project, with the Arrow 3 interceptor system built by Israel Aerospace Industries seen as a possible candidate, Lambrecht said.

Is the Iron Dome better suited for European needs?

In a previous interview with The Jerusalem Post, German Air Force Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz stated that while the Iron Dome system is beneficial, it focuses on different threats than the Arrow-3 interceptor system

“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.” 

Unlike the Iron Dome system and the SPYDER system, the Arrow-3 intercepts ballistic threats in space.

Spain's socialist-led government on Tuesday unveiled a draft budget after intense discussions with its far-left coalition partner, Unidas Podemos, which sought extended social spending in return for approving an increase in defense spending to meet NATO expectations.