Germany has delivered the first of four Iris-T SLM air defense batteries to Ukraine, daily Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday.
The Iris-T SLM is a ground-launched variant of the original Iris-T air-to-air missile developed by German company Diehl Defense as a modern and in many ways superior missile to the U.S.-made AIM-9 Sidewinder, the standard equipment of many NATO air forces.
According to the German government, the Iris-T will mainly be used to protect civilians from missile attacks by the Russian army. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained the weapons are suitable for the protection of large cities. The delivery was promised by the German chancellor at the beginning of June.
It was due to be delivered in November, but the process was accelerated in the wake of Monday’s attacks.
The Iris-T SLM air defense system consists of three vehicles: a launch pad mounted on a military truck that can carry eight missiles, a radar vehicle, and a command vehicle.
The anti-aircraft missiles are said to be capable of hitting targets at altitudes of up to 20 kilometers and at ranges of up to 40 kilometers, and have a range significantly greater than shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
Germany is the NATO country supplying more weapons to Ukraine than any of its European peers, even offering up weapons and ammunition it does not have very much of itself. Recently, the German parliament’s defense commissioner said that her country would need an addition €20 billion to replenish dwindling ammunition stocks in order to meet NATO readiness standards.
“We delivered whatever we had: anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, mines, guns, tons of ammunition, and non-lethal aid,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said previously. “Since then, we’ve progressed to more intricate and valuable systems,” he added.