“The emphasis is on early implementation, hence the reliance on already existing systems rather than on the time-consuming process of developing and certifying new systems,” writes Dr. Uzi Rubin, the founder and first Director of the Israel Missile Defence Organization (IMDO) in the Israel Ministry of Defence.
In a special report for the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Rubin says that for Germany, the acquisition of Arrow 3 is just one building block of the plan to revamp its own and its European allies’ air and missile defence as a response to the perception of the growing threat from Russia.
“The systems will consist of three layers. The lower one will be based on the German-made IRIS-T short-range air and missile defence system. The middle layer will be based on US-supplied Patriot systems, with Israeli-supplied Arrow 3 systems providing the upper layer. The emphasis is on early implementation, hence the reliance on already existing systems rather than on the time-consuming process of developing and certifying new systems.”
According to Rubin, the rationale behind this initiative is derived from three major considerations. First, the invasion of Ukraine proves that Putin’s Russia will not shy away from using overwhelming force and risking a European war to advance what it sees as its strategic goals. That makes the prospect of a Russian-NATO war not as remote as it was seen barely two years ago. Second, the modernization of Russia’s armed forces after the recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union gave priority to precision long-range stand-off weapons. Consequently, Russia now possesses air-, sea-, and ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with various ranges that can cause critical damage throughout Europe without resorting to nuclear weapons. Third, the Ukraine war shows that ground-based air and missile defence (GBAD) is a decisive factor in modern wars, rather than the subservient role it played after the Cold War.
“What are the threats the ESSI is designed to defend against? Germany remains somewhat vague about it. The referenced threats seem to be the vast array of air-, sea-, and ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with various ranges now devastating Ukraine. Arrow 3 – capable of intercepting ballistic missiles well beyond the Earth’s atmosphere – is particularly apt for countering Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. The air-launched Kinzhal is a ballistic missile that performs hypersonic maneuvering only when it is back in the Earth’s atmosphere. Arrow 3 can hit it while it is still in outer space and before it can start its hypersonic maneuvering. That provides a better chance of a kill than trying to shoot it down during its violent atmospheric maneuvers.”