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NATO’s Eastern European air defenses at 5% of required capacity – FT

An internal assessment says the military bloc is incapable of defending against a full-scale long-range attack, the paper says

NATO member states have just 5% of the air-defense systems required to repel a significant attack in Eastern Europe, according to an internal assessment by the military alliance.

A NATO diplomat told the Financial Times on Wednesday that the shortage of such systems was “one of the biggest holes we have,” and a situation that members of the US-led military bloc “can’t deny.”

One of the reasons for the shortage is that Western-designed anti-aircraft weapons are expensive and slow to manufacture, the British newspaper reported. Advances in drone technology are also making long-range strike capability more affordable. This has been seen in the Ukraine conflict, with both sides using relatively cheap unmanned aircraft to attack targets far from the front line.

NATO’s apparent vulnerability in Europe is being exacerbated by disagreements among EU member states about how to address the air-defense deficiency. Germany and France have proposed competing plans, while Poland and Greece are calling for an EU-wide integrated system.

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Patriot launchers modules mounted on M983 HEMTT part of the US made MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system are pictured on a open field on February 18, 2023 in Zamosc, Poland.
Germany and France seeking joint EU air defense – Bloomberg

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that Berlin and Paris were set to reveal a new compromise on the European Sky Shield Initiative, which German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz originally proposed in 2022. The system would use a combination of US-made Patriot interceptors, Israeli Arrow 3s, and German IRIS-Ts. French criticism of the German plans related its over reliance on weapons sourced from outside of the EU and the exclusion of French-Italian SAMP-Ts.

Western nations have been supplying advanced air-defense systems to Ukraine to bolster its military against Russia. However, the deliveries have been deemed insufficient by Kiev, which has requested more of them to counter Russian long-range capabilities.

Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky has estimated on several occasions that his country needs at least five additional Patriot batteries. Germany vowed in April to supply one of these from its own stockpile, while the Netherlands said this week that it had engaged partners to source another one.


READ MORE: Alleged Ukrainian attacks on Russian nuclear radars unnerving US – WaPo

Western donors claim they are arming Ukraine because its defeat in the conflict would be followed by a Russian attack on NATO. Officials in Moscow have denied any such intention. Russia perceives the hostilities to be part of a US-initiated proxy war against it, in which the Ukrainians are being used as “cannon fodder.”

May 30, 2024 at 08:46PM
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