Estonia joins Scholz-initiated European air defense system program

Patriot air defense systems in Dutch service, at Sliac air base, Slovakia.
Patriot air defense systems in Dutch service, at Sliac air base, Slovakia.

Estonia has signed up to a German-led initiative to build up a Europe-wide long-range integrated air defense system, which would remain under NATO rather than European Union auspices.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) joined his counterparts from 13 NATO countries, plus NATO applicant Finland, at a meeting in Brussels Thursday, to sign the initiative.

German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht was also present and a signatory, as was UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, and the defense ministers from Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as hosts Belgium and, as noted, Finland.

The proposal came from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, no less, resulting from the changed security situation in Europe since February 24, German daily Der Spiegel reported on its website.

Previously, Iran had been considered the most serious threat to Europe so far as missile strikes went.

Also, according to Scholz, a common European air defense would work out cheaper and more effective for all parties, as opposed to each of the 14 countries building expensive and complex air defense systems alone.

Considerations include the fact that long-range ballistic missiles follow very high-altitude trajectories, while protection against drones and other newer tech needs to be taken into account, German-language defense publication der Tagesschau reports.

Defense ministers from the NATO countries at Thursday's meeting in Brussels. Source:

Mircea Geoană, Deputy Head of NATO, also welcomed the initiative and said that the new inter-compatible air defense systems would enable the alliance to be protected from all air and missile threats.

The new air defense systems will be procured within the framework of the European Sky Shield Initiative project.

Der Tagesschau enumerated deficiencies in Germany's air defense system at present as mainly consisting of the lack of long-range options compared with Stinger for short range targets and Patriot for medium-range targets, while Finland reportedly has the same problem.

Israeli-made Arrow 3 multi-level air defense systems, accurate on targets up to 100 km in altitude, may be one option so far as procurements go.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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