Ukraine War Brings Germany Close to First-of-its-kind Deal With Israel for Missile Defense System

Israel has avoided sales of advanced systems like the Arrow 3 to maintain a military advantage. If approved by Washington too, this would be the first time the system is sold outside the U.S. and Israel

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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An Arrow 3 test launch in Israel, in 2019.
An Arrow 3 test launch in Israel, in 2019.Credit: Israel Defense Ministry
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Spurred by the war in Ukraine, Germany is close to finalizing a deal to buy the Israeli anti-ballistic Arroow 3 system. If the United States also signs off on the deal, it would be the first sale of the system to any third country.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Israel in March, after Russia invaded Ukraine, to move the deal ahead.

The sale is pending the approval of the U.S. since it was a partner in developing the system, but it is likely to do so.

Priced at around two million euros ($2.18 million), the system was developed by several Israeli defense firms with funding and cooperation from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a press conference in Jerusalem, in March.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The Israeli Air Force has deployed both Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems. The former became operational in 2000 and the latter in 2017. In 2019, it deployed an upgraded Arrow 3 system and was tested twice since, in both Israel and the U.S.

The Arrow 3 is considered the most advanced system of its kind in the world and is meant to intercept long-range ballistic missiles before they reenter the atmosphere, giving it time to make more than one attempt if the first interception fails.

It was developed by Elta division, Elbit Systems and Tomer.

The defense industries have tried in recent years to obtain the government’s permission to sell missile defense systems abroad, especially the Iron Dome system, which is meant to intercept short-range missiles. Many countries have expressed interest in the system.

Israeli missile defense systems are considered to be of very high quality, partially because they have racked up more operational experience than systems produced by rival companies.

The Israeli government has yet to allow these systems to be sold overseas. A decision was recently made to produce a version of the anti-ballistic systems for export. The export version is expected to exclude classified components, allowing Israel to retain its qualitative military edge without sharing its secrets.

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