Denmark and Sweden on February 15 became the newest partners of the German-led European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI), which will aim to procure a European air defense system through the common acquisition of air defense equipment and missiles by European nations.
The newest accessions bring the number of participants to 17, including 15 NATO allies as well as invitees Finland and Sweden.
Launched in October last year, Sky Shield is expected to strengthen NATO’s integrated air and missile defense by facilitating the multinational acquisition and integration of a broad range of air defense capabilities by European countries. The system will rely on interoperable, off-the-shelf solutions, it was said earlier.
“Germany’s leadership through the European Sky Shield Initiative, leveraging already existing NATO cooperation frameworks, is a crucial step to ensure that NATO can effectively defend itself against air and missile threats,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.
As envisioned, the multinational acquisition will be carried out through a “rapid acquisition track” within NATO’s Modular Ground-Based Air Defence High Visibility Project. Ten allied defense ministers launched this effort on February 15 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding and associated funding commitments.
Announcing the initiative last year, Germany’s defense minister at the time Christine Lambrecht told reporters that the first move could be to identify joint procurement options, pointing to the US-built Patriot system as a potential contender for the medium layer of defense. It is also worth noting that Germany is producing the IRIS-T system for the medium layer.
When it comes to the upper layer, Lambrecht identified the Israeli-developed Arrow 3 as a suitable contender. “No decision has been taken yet but I think it would be the right system,” Lambrecht added.