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Austria plans to strengthen air defence with long-range system

By Defence Industry Europe

During a press conference in Vienna on November 15, 2023, the Austrian government announced its intention to bolster national air defense by acquiring a long-range air defence system for its armed forces. Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner stated that the ministry aims to finalize a contract by the end of 2026, ensuring the decision is made before the transition to a new government. The project will soon be presented to the parliament.

 

While specific details about the type of system were not officially disclosed by Tanner, unofficial sources indicate that the Israeli Arrow 3 and the American PATRIOT air defence systems are under consideration. Given the goal of integrating with German air defence, it remains unclear which system is more likely to be chosen. Germany has recently acquired the Arrow 3 system but also successfully operates PATRIOTs, which provide lower-tier air and missile defence. Cost may be a significant factor in the decision, although Minister Tanner did not reveal the expected budget range for the procurement, leaving the scale of the purchase undefined.

 

 

Austria’s interest in the Arrow 3 and PATRIOT air defence systems stems directly from a letter of intent signed on July 12, along with Switzerland, to join Germany’s European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI). Additionally, Vienna has decided to acquire the German IRIS-T system in medium-range SLM and short-range SLS versions. The Austrian armed forces will receive 8 batteries (4 SLM and 4 SLS), totaling 24 launchers, with each battery comprising 3 launchers and one radar. The delivery of the equipment, valued at EUR 2–2.5 billion, is set to commence in 2026.

 

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It’s worth noting that Austria’s current air defense capability is relatively modest, with 59 portable Mistral short-range air defence launchers and 24 towed GDF-005 35mm guns in service. At the AirPower22 air show in Zeltweg, Austria showcased the Pandur Evo SHORAD (Short-Range Air Defence) system. These vehicles, operating in tandem, carry a Giraffe 1X three-coordinate radar and a launcher with 4 very short-range Mistral Atlas RC air defence missiles. The Pandur Evo SHORAD is designed to provide protection for mobile land force units.

 

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