14 NATO member states or partners, including Romania, signed a letter of intent on Thursday for the joint acquisition of air defense systems in the category of Arrow 3 and Patriot systems.
The signing ceremony of the European Skyshield Initiative (ESSI) took place at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) in Brussels.
The participating countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the United Kingdom, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary, Reuters reports.
According to DPA, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the project at the end of August, when he called for a “security boost for all of Europe”. He said that a European air defense system would be more effective than if each country were to build its own air defense system, an expensive and highly complex one.
Scholz added on that occasion that Germany will invest heavily in air defense in the coming years, in a way that gives nearby states the opportunity to participate from the start. He specifically mentioned the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Scandinavian countries.
The idea of a common European air defense system has particularly resonated with Eastern European countries, concerned by Putin’s threats of further escalation and the use of nuclear weapons, according to Euractiv.com.
Arrow 3 (or Hetz 3) is an anti-missile defense system designed for exoatmospheric interceptions at very high altitudes. The system, jointly developed by Israel and the United States, is designed against ballistic and intercontinental missiles that can carry nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads.
The system was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing and involves a highly agile and fast interceptor capable of dramatically changing its interception trajectory, reaching very high altitudes and even knocking satellites out of orbit.