Germany and 14 NATO allies held a ceremony to sign a letter of intent for the joint procurement of air defence systems at the alliance’s Brussels headquarters on Thursday.
Countries agreeing to the German-led network are seeking to protect European skies with air defence systems like the Arrow 3 and Patriot under the so-called European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI).
“A total of 15 states have come together to organize joint procurements under German coordination with regard to European air defence. It is something where we have gaps,” said German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht.
The signatories include Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, along with the UK, Lithuania, Romania and Estonia, according to diplomats.
“It is about being interoperable. It is about being able to design prices accordingly. And, of course, it is also about being able to support each other in terms of maintenance,” Lambrecht said.
“It’s a win-win situation for the countries involved,” she added.
The signing occurred on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defence ministers.
What is the European Sky Shield Initiative?
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the initiative in August, calling it a “security gain for all of Europe.”
At the time, Scholz argued that combined air defence would prove more cost-effective than each country racing to defend its own skies or building its own air defence systems.
The German chancellor said Berlin would need to invest heavily in air defence in the years ahead and would get a head start if other allied nations could participate at the ground level from the beginning.
With Russia sending missiles flying into Ukrainian cities Monday, Europe is again on alert as Moscow appears to target civilians.
The fundamentally rearranged security picture in Europe has meant new measures are required to prevent an elevated threat to the continent due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, now in its eighth month with winter looming.
This is an excerpt from an article first published on the Deutsche Welle website – click here to read the full story.