AP / August 17, 2023
JERUSALEM – Israel’s Defense Ministry said Thursday it has secured its largest-ever defense deal selling a sophisticated missile defense system to Germany for $3.5 billion after the United States approved the deal.
Although Israel has long had close economic and military links with western European countries, the deal with Germany could draw the attention of Russia. Israel has maintained working relations with Russia throughout the war in Ukraine and has repeatedly rebuffed requests to sell arms to Kyiv for fear of antagonizing Moscow.
Germany will buy the advanced defense system, coined Arrow 3, which is designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles. Israel sought approval for the deal from the U.S. State Department because the system was jointly developed by the two countries.
“The American approval marks a momentous milestone in the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States,” Israeli defense official Daniel Gold said in a statement. “The joint program with the U.S. on the advanced Arrow 3 defense system strengthens our national defense,” adding it will extend Germany’s defense capability.
The sale still requires additional procedural steps by both Israel and Germany, including approval by both parliaments, according to the director of the Israeli Missile Defense Organization, Moshe Patel. Patel told reporters Thursday that the components of the missile system will be fully delivered to Germany by 2025, with the system reaching full capability by 2030.
Germany launched the European Sky Shield Initiative last year with 17 other nations, including the United Kingdom and Sweden, a joint European air defense system after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius welcomed the U.S. approval allowing the deal to move forward.
“This procurement plan is essential for us in order to be able to protect Germany from ballistic missile attacks in the future,” he said in a statement posted by his ministry on the social platform X, formerly known as Twitter. He added that “the project also constitutes a signal of our special German-Israeli relations.”
Uzi Rubin, the former director of Israel’s missile defense program, said Arrow 3 could be moved to act as a long-range ballistic missile shield for other European countries. He said it was the best defense available against the threat of ballistic missiles but does not protect against cruise missiles or others flying at lower altitudes.
While Israel has turned down requests to provide Ukraine with weapons, it has sent humanitarian aid.
Israel has a delicate relationship with Russia, with which it coordinates on security issues in neighboring Syria. Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian military positions in recent years ibn Syria. Russia is also home to a large Jewish community.
By moving ahead on Arrow 3 with Germany, Israel appears to be counting on the fact that the deal, as well as a sale of a different missile defense system to NATO member Finland, involves only defensive weapons — and will not fundamentally disrupt cordial relations with Russia.
“Relations are a bit strained,” said Rubin, who is also an expert at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, a think tank. “But still, we are not supplying Ukraine with any weapons. We do that because we want to keep relations with Russia at an acceptable level.”
Israel says Arrow-3 missile-killer sale to Germany approved by U.S.
Reuters / August 17, 2023
JERUSALEM – The United States approved a $3.5 billion sale of Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defence system to Germany on Thursday, clearing the way for delivery in 2025 and full operational deployment by 2030, Israeli officials said.
The U.S. is a partner in the Arrow project, which was developed jointly by the Israel Missile Defence Organization and the United States Missile Defense Agency.
The Germany deal, which would be Israel’s biggest ever defence sale, follows a European arms build-up in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Israel and Germany will sign a Letter of Commitment, with a $600 million initial payment, to commence work on the project, a statement by Israel’s Defence Ministry said, adding that the full contract will be ready to sign by the end of 2023.
Using a detachable warhead that collides with the target, it is designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere, an altitude allowing for the safe dispersal of any non-conventional warheads.
Germany has said it expects its air force to take delivery of Arrow-3 by the fourth quarter of 2025.
Moshe Patel, head of the Israeli Missile Defence Organization, told reporters that would be the first “milestone” with another coming when the German Arrow-3 achieves “full capability, around 2030”.
Additional German spending on Arrow-3 could raise the deal’s value to $4 billion, Patel said, adding that other countries – which he declined to name – have voiced interest in the system.
Asked if the Arrow-3 procured by Germany is intended to protect its east – an allusion to Russia – Patel said: “They are buying a full architecture that can protect each part of Germany.”
Boaz Levy, CEO of main contractor Israel Aerospace Industries, added: “The system is a mobile system and you can shift it according to threats.”
The Ukraine war has laid bare a shortage of ground-based air defence systems such as Raytheon’s (RTX.N) Patriot units or the more recently developed IRIS-T in many Western nations.
While Patriot and IRIS-T cover the medium layer of air defence, Arrow-3 – in whose production Boeing Co (BA.N) is also involved – offers protection for the higher layer.
Israel’s Army Radio said the signing ceremony with Germany on the Arrow-3 sale was expected to take place in November.
Reporting by Dan Williams; editing by Tom Hogue and Raju Gopalakrishnan