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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The pitfalls of the chancellor’s project “missile shield for Germany”

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Piece by piece, Olaf Scholz describes what the “change of era” he proclaimed also means in military terms. The chancellor in “Anne Will” is an apparition that announces his course. Cool objectivity, self-assured, he hints that he saw disaster coming with Putin for a long time. This clashes somewhat with the government’s policy of previous years, when Scholz was already co-responsible, both in terms of national defense and in terms of energy dependence on Russia.

Try not to show doubts or weaknesses in leadership, but to respond to Vladimir Putin with force. In this analogy, the Chancellor is also at the forefront of the movement when it comes to a missile shield for Germany. However, defense experts warn of a crucial flaw in the possible design, and a problem that the Arrow 3 system under discussion can’t solve either.

Is the purchase already decided?

No. According to information from the Tagesspiegel, Scholz discussed this purchase option with Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and Inspector General Eberhard Zorn on Wednesday. “That’s definitely one of the things we advise, for good reason,” Scholz said on ARD’s “Anne Will” show when asked if a protective shield should be put up against rocket attacks like in Israel, where the project It’s under the company name. the name “Iron Dome”, “iron dome”.

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He explains very emphatically why Scholz no longer considers such a project to be science fiction since the beginning of the war in Ukraine: “We all have to prepare ourselves for the fact that we have a neighbor who is currently willing to use violence to assert their interests. That’s why we have to get so strong together so that this doesn’t happen.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin disagrees with one of the principles of European peace policy, “namely, that the borders in Europe can no longer be moved.” But Putin believes that large parts of certain states actually belong to Russia. “Anyone who flips through the history books and looks at the borders of the past and draws consequences for the present is plunging Europe into eternal wars.” He sees the return of imperialism in Putin, so he too wants a forceful response.

Why is the Israeli system in focus?

Specifically, the acquisition of the Israeli “Arrow 3” system is being considered internally, in combination with radar devices that are so powerful that they can register rocket launches over long distances. The interceptor missiles launched then are capable of destroying long-range missiles high above the earth, right in the stratosphere. The Bundeswehr has not yet been able to do this.

For example, Russian Iskander missiles fired from the Kaliningrad enclave could be destroyed there in the Earth’s atmosphere. The system was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries in cooperation with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing. “Germany has so far been using the US Patriot system as a ground-based short-range anti-aircraft missile system to defend against aircraft, cruise missiles and medium-range tactical ballistic missiles,” emphasizes the defense expert. of the CDU and retired colonel. of the Bundeswehr, Roderich Kiesewetter, when asked by the Tagesspiegel that this system is not sufficient to combat, for example, intercontinental ballistic missiles in their intermediate phase of flight.

More about the Ukrainian war on Tagesspiegel Plus:

Kieswetter agrees with the Chancellor that we must now take such threat scenarios more and more into account “for ourselves and in particular for the countries of Eastern Europe”. The Arrow 3 under discussion would be an addition to ground-based air defense capabilities, Kiesewetter emphasizes.

It is envisaged that a possible multi-billion euro purchase could be financed through the 100 billion euro special fund for the Bundeswehr, which is currently being planned.

Since this requires an amendment to the Basic Law and thus a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag, Scholz depends on the Union’s support here. Scholz doesn’t want to comment on the details yet. “I have decided not to divulge the details of a plan that has not yet been finalized.”

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A missile shield for Germany? Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (both SPD) are looking into this.Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP

What are military experts warning about?

Which will be a purely national missile defense shield for Germany alone. Carlo Masala of the Bundeswehr University urgently advises approaching it as a joint project with Poland and the Baltic states, for example. “That would be a nice side effect for Poland and the Baltic states. Depending on where the detection radars are stationed, their airspace could also be covered”, he emphasized when asked by the Tagesspiegel. It would also depend on where the interceptor batteries are installed. “That would be exactly the system that would make sense.”

When Scholz had not yet heard such thoughts, CDU military expert Kiesewetter told the “European Security and Technology” portal as early as January 2021 that NATO’s success as the basis of the Western security architecture was largely due to part to its ability to adapt to new adjust security requirements. “In the end, we Europeans will have to make offers for credible burden sharing. For example, we can suggest taking more responsibility for ground-based air defense in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Therefore, in view of the current debate on Arrow 3, Kieswetter emphasizes: “Therefore, such a protective shield must be integrated into NATO’s air defense from the outset. Germany should take over ground-based air defense for Poland, the Baltic States and the countries of Eastern Europe.

How exactly would that work?

Radars could be stationed in Germany and additional missiles for defense in Poland, the Baltic states and other Eastern European countries. The Bundeswehr’s air operations center and new space command are based in Uedem in North Rhine-Westphalia on the Lower Rhine. Radar surveillance could be controlled from here, and if there were indications that a enemy missile, interceptor missiles stationed in various countries could be raised to destroy the attacking missile. “In this way, Germany can fulfill its responsibility to protect in Europe.

The current air defense systems are not enough for this”, emphasizes Kieswetter. At the same time, it would be a strong signal from Germany to share the transatlantic burden. Arrow 3 could be a useful weapons project.

However, the resources would be misused, “if Germany is now investing billions in a new purely national missile defense system, it should therefore be integrated into our defense alliance, i.e. offer a European protective shield.” of the Union for approval.

However, it probably wouldn’t be available before 2025 anyway.

The former president of the reservists association emphasizes that this system could not solve a fundamental problem: that is the great dilemma. Russia is increasingly using hypersonic weapons, and so far there is no working protective shield system. Even the Arrow 3 rockets could only do a very limited thing against such weapons. “We must always keep in mind that there is no such thing as 100% protection, no missile shield in the world.”


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