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Germany delivers air defense system to Ukraine

October 12, 2022

The delivery of the IRIS-T system comes days after heavy Russian missile strikes hit major Ukrainian cities including Kyiv. The German defense minister said three more of the systems would be delivered next year.

Iris-T SLM systems
The Iris-T SLM systems can defend against missiles at a range of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles)Image: Jens Krick/Flashpic/picture alliance

Germany delivered the first of four IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine on Tuesday, according to Ukraine's Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, who announced the arrival on Twitter. 

Reznikov added more US-made NASAMS are also being delivered, saying the weapons systems will usher in a "new era of air defense."

 "There is a moral imperative to protect the sky over [Ukraine] in order to save our people," Reznikov added. 

On Wednesday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht confirmed the IRIS-T delivery, and added a further three air defense systems would be delivered to Ukraine next year. Lambrecht spoke to reporters in Brussles ahead of a NATO defense minister summit

"Ukraine urgently needs air defense systems and artillery and this is exactly what Germany delivers," she said. 

What is Germany delivering?

The long-promised systems, which are capable of protecting an entire city, were originally slated to be delivered at the end of the year.

Monday's deadly Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities, however, have sped up the delivery timeline.

"A very important support for Ukraine in the fight against missile attacks, against this terror the population is subjected to," Lambrecht said.

The IRIS-T SLM can defend from approaching missiles at an altitude of up to 20 kilometers and a distance up to 40 kilometers.

Germany has also provided several "Panzerhaubitze" mobile artillery units to Ukrainian forces. 

NATO allies, and partners aim to boost Kyiv's air defense

A US-led coalition of some 50 countries known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group will meet in Brussels on Wednesday on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers meeting.

The United States ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, told Reuters news agency the focus would be on providing more air defense systems to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expected a positive response on Wednesday from Western allies in Brussels to his requests for a rapid increase in military aid.

He specifically asked the leaders of the Group of seven nations on Tuesday for more air defense capabilities. 

"We will address how to ramp up support for Ukraine and the top priority will be more air defense for Ukraine," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said. 

The US said it was speeding up the shipment of sophisticated NASAMS air defenses to Ukraine.

lo/wmr (Reuters, AFP)