German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was given approval in principle by US President Joe Biden last Friday to buy Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system during his visit to Washington, according to reports.
Germany has been waiting several months for a US decision on the procurement of the Arrow 3 system from Israel, which would be partially financed by the Americans. Germany had already made the decision to buy Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system for an estimated €3 billion as part of its new defense strategy following the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the need for protection from Russia’s ballistic missiles. Israel has already approved the sale in talks with the Germans and has been waiting for the US green light on the matter before closing final details regarding deployment, timetables and manufacturing the required interceptors as part of the deal.
The Arrow 3 will be deployed alongside its existing US terminal high altitude area defense system (THAAD) with capabilities to protect against ballistic missiles, including missiles with unconventional payloads. German plans that were published last year will now move ahead for the procurement of Green Pine missile defense radar systems and several interceptor stations that will provide protection for large parts of Central Europe.
Germany’s plan for missile protection is called Sky Shield, of which procurement of the Arrow 3 is only a part. The aim is to handle threats ranging from rockets to hypersonic missiles, such as those operated by Russia. The cost of the plan will be enormous. So far, 17 countries have joined Germany, including Sweden and Denmark just last month – and it will form a collective defense concept for large parts of Europe bordering Russia, the new-old threat in the region. It is already clear that Germany, due to its excellent relations with Israel and the US, will be responsible for operating a large part of the Arrow 3 system, including radar systems and interceptors that will be stationed in various places around the country.
The deal: Significant lever of influence in Europe
This deal, if indeed it is announced in the coming weeks after months of waiting, will not only be a financial bonanza for Israel’s defense industries (the system was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in collaboration with Boeing), but will give Israel a significant lever of influence over Europe. The protection of all of Central Europe from the threat of Russian missiles, which is becoming more and more relevant as the countries deepen their involvement in the war in Ukraine, will be carried out through a “Made in Israel” defense system.
It is possible that reports of a possible upcoming visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Germany are related to this cooperation, and that the deal will be announced during the visit, if it takes place.
The German media reported on Scholz’s “unusual visit” to the White House last weekend, which lasted only about an hour, and was not accompanied by a press conference, any detailed summary or include meals or celebratory events. Apparently, during the visit, at the end of which the two leaders declared that the countries were “fully coordinated” regarding Ukraine, US approval was given to advance negotiations with Israel for the procurement of Arrow 3, which is an almost final approval.
Germany in the forefront of defending Europe
According to reports in the French media, the German initiative called ESSI has aroused anger in Paris, among other things because it puts Germany in the forefront of defending Europe, and not NATO or France. Western European nations like Spain and Portugal, as well as France, have still to join the initiative. The French are interested in developing an independent European missile defense system.
Israel and Germany already have productive security cooperation, including in the field of drones, in which IAI and the Israel Air Force lease about seven Heron-TP type drones to the German army, in a deal worth €1 billion. Recently, it was also decided to arm the drones with Israeli missiles, after years of debate on the ethics of the step. Germany has also sold advanced submarines to Israel, for €3 billion. In a previous meeting between Scholz and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the German Chancellor said, “We are very eager to work with Israel in this area (security), including in the area of air defense where Israel has a very effective product.”
A report on the German plan previously published in “Bild” said that the system’s powerful Green Pine radar will be deployed in three centers in Germany, and the information from them will be transmitted to the air force base in Uedem, in the west of Germany. The interceptor missile launchers will be stationed in various places in Germany, and possibly other countries as well. This is why the final procurement cost may be higher than €3 billion, because of the need to protect larger parts of Europe. The German officials quoted in “Bild” estimated that the system could be operational by 2025, but it could be later due to delays in receiving US approval.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 8, 2023.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.
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