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German Defense Minister Pushes Need for Stronger Air Defenses Against Drones

Germany’s minister of defense has highlighted the need to strengthen the country’s air defenses citing the threat posed by armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Speaking on the topic, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer referenced the recent Nagorno Karabakh war, where Azerbaijani armed drones inflicted heavy damage on Armenian air defenses. Many have argued this tilted the conflict in Baku’s favor.

“We saw in Nagorno Karabakh that drones were used to wage a different kind of war. It showed that drones can pose asymmetrical threats because they can also be used by groups other than governments, such as terrorist organizations,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, Zeit Online reported.

“That’s why we have to re-examine our entire air defense.”

Berlin Decommissioned Air Defense Force in 2012

The minister’s sudden advocacy of the need to shore up Germany’s air defenses also stems from the fact that Berlin decommissioned its dedicated air defense force in 2012 owing to an austerity program and changed threat perception, the German news outlet wrote.

The country is particularly vulnerable when it comes to very short and short-range air defense, according to the Warsaw-based think tank Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW). 

In assessing the German Air Force’s missile defense capabilities, OSW wrote that the sole air defense missile wing has only one air defense missile group equipped with very short and short-range air defense systems.

OSW further wrote that the air force retired two of its Cold War-era air defense systems in the 2000s. In 2005, it decommissioned Roland, a very short air defense system. Five years later, a short-range air defense system called Gepard was retired.

Kramp-Karrenbauer Favors Arming Purchased Israeli Drones

Meanwhile, Kramp-Karrenbauer also weighed in on the debate surrounding whether to arm the five TP Heron UAVs the country will receive from Israel in the next few months.

The Social Democratic Party, one of Germany’s ruling coalition partners, has refused to support the armed force’s request to arm the drones.

“We have a chance if the Federal Minister of Finance approves the 25 million euro bill for arming the drones…,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, who leads the Christian Democratic Union, a Christian-democratic and liberal-conservative political party.

“…Then we would have the opportunity to have another discussion in the Committee on budgets and bring about a decision,” she said, adding that if there is still a chance in this legislative period, “then I will take it.”

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