German Defense Chief Eberhard Zorn has revealed Berlin is considering the purchase of a missile defense system from Israel or the United States to defend itself against threats, including the Russian Iskander missiles at the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
In an interview with Welt am Sonntag published on Saturday, the German general explained that there is currently no missile shield effective enough to protect against the threat of Russia’ Iksander missiles, which can reach almost all of Western Europe.
Although there is an anti-missile shield at Deveselu, central Romania, it seems that the Germans would not trust its ability to neutralize such weapons.
“Israelis and Americans have such systems. Which do we prefer? Will we be able to establish a general (missile defense) system in NATO? These are the questions we need to answer now,” Zorn told the publication.
Without specifying names, it is likely that Zorn was referring to the Arrow 3 system built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the American THAAD system produced by Raytheon.
Russia said in 2018 that it had deployed Iskander missiles to a base in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave situated between Poland and Lithuania. A mobile ballistic missile system, Iskander, has replaced the Soviet Scud missile, and its two guided missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
In a keynote speech a few days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz revealed Berlin would increase its defense spending to more than 2 percent of its economic output by injecting €100 billion in its military.
Zorn belongs to a group of high-ranking officials who consult with Scholz on how to spend this money.
Why is Germany in a hurry to buy a shield?
“So far, one thing is clear: we have neither the time nor the money to develop these (missile defense) systems on our own, because it is known that the missile threat is already there,” Zorn said.
Referring to Germany’s lack of short-range missile defense, which could be used to protect troops on the move or under threat during the deployment, he said Berlin had begun considering the purchase of such systems and now had a decision to make
In addition, Zorn explained that the Bundeswehr will have to invest €20 billion by 2032 to fill its ammunition depots.