Defense Minister Benny Gantz hopeful about Arrow-3 sale to Germany

Germany hopes to sign a deal to purchase Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defense system and have the system operational by 2025. 

Israel, US carry out successful test of Arrow-3 missile over Alaska (photo credit: ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israel, US carry out successful test of Arrow-3 missile over Alaska
(photo credit: ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Israel believes that the United States will allow the sale of the Arrow-3 missile defense system to Germany, outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday.

“We have spoken to them to allow this, the process is ongoing and I am hopeful that it will go through,” Gantz said, speaking to Ynet News.

Also on Monday, the outgoing Director General of the Israel Ministry of Defense, Maj.-Gen. (ret) Amir Eshel met with German State Secretary for the Federal Ministry of Defense, Mr. Benedikt Zimmer for the yearly bilateral strategic dialogue.

The meeting included senior officials from the Policy & Pol-Mil Bureau and the DDR&D in the Israel Ministry of Defense and their German counterparts in the MOD Political Directorate, the Strategic Armament Cooperation Office, the State Secretary Office, and the Middle East Desk Office.

According to a statement released by the Defense Ministry, the officials discussed global and regional strategic issues such as the “growing Iranian threat and Iran's malign behavior, the global ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine war, bilateral defense cooperation, the joint interest to strengthen regional stability, broadening research and development processes, and more in light of the developments in the region and around the world.”

 Defense Minister and leader of the National Unity Party Benny Gantz at a faction meeting of the National Unity Party at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022.  (credit: NOAM REVKIN/FLASH90) Defense Minister and leader of the National Unity Party Benny Gantz at a faction meeting of the National Unity Party at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (credit: NOAM REVKIN/FLASH90)

They also discussed the developments regarding the proposed sale of the Arrow-3 to Berlin.

While Germany seeks to play a stronger role in military leadership in Europe, Berlin on Monday walked back on its promise that it made following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to raise defense spending to at least 2% of its GDP.

According to Politico, Chief Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told journalists that the 2% target would be missed not only this year but also likely next year and that his “cautious expectation” was that it would meet the target by 2025.

Following Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party said it would set up a special fund of €100 billion ($108b.) in order to swiftly upgrade its armed forces. But, the SDP has faced heavy criticism over the slow rollout of the defense spending 

Germany is hopeful about the deal

Germany nevertheless, hopes to sign a deal to purchase Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defense system and have the system operational by 2025. 

According to a source, had Russia not invaded Ukraine last February it would have been much harder to convince legislators to purchase the Arrow-3. The deal would cost an estimated 3 billion euros, making it the largest defense deal in Israeli history.

The head of the German Air Force  Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz was in Israel in November and visited Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the system as well as senior IDF and Israel Air Force officials.

Berlin is pushing to procure the system as it has no missile defense system capable of intercepting missiles in the exoatmospheric range of 15,000 meters like the Arrow-3 is capable of, making it the most relevant system for the threats facing the European nation.

Germany hopes to purchase at least three interceptors.

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 source, the delay in the export is due to a lack of approval by the United States.

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.

Washington is demanding to want at least 50% of the interceptor missiles sold to be built locally.

In an attempt to get Washington to give the green light to the sale, Defense Minister Benny Gantz has spoken with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin on the proposal as well as with his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht several times.

The acquisition of the system is expected to be part of the European development of a joint air defense program named European Sky Shield Initiative which will involve 14 NATO member countries.

A Letter of Intent was signed in October in Brussels initiating the development of the Sky Shield, which is being spearheaded by Berlin and aims to create a European air defense system through the common acquisition of air defense equipment and missiles by European nations. 

The system would field off threats at close range such as drones and medium-to-long-range threats like ballistic and cruise missiles that could be armed with nuclear weapons.