Sky Shield: Austria buys IRIS-T air defense missiles

Sky Shield: Austria buys IRIS-T air defense missiles
The system is currently being used in Ukraine.
Image: Ministry of Defense Germany/Shields

Specifically, the purchase of the German medium-range air defense system Iris-T is planned, said Tanner. A “Memorandum of Understanding” is to be agreed with Berlin in the next few weeks.

Tanner appeared together with Air Force Chief Gerfried Promberger. He recently took part in a meeting of the air force chiefs of the partner states of the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) in Germany, at which the German arms company Diehl presented its Iris-T system. Tanner and Promberger expect lower purchase and training costs from joint procurement. This should take place within the framework of the German army, which is currently setting up a kind of European academy for the ESSI partner states.

Currently in use in Ukraine

Promberger also emphasized to journalists the military value of the system, which is currently being used by Ukraine with a “high rate of launch” against Russian missiles. “The system is accurate, available on the market and combat proven,” emphasized the brigadier. It is also extremely flexible and can be dismantled and assembled within a few minutes.

Specifically, Austria plans to procure four short-haul systems with a range of up to 15 kilometers and four medium-haul systems with a range of up to 50 kilometers, according to Promberger. The systems each have three launchers. Where exactly they will be stationed depends on the threat situation. The first system is expected to be delivered just one year after the procurement contract is signed.

Germany negotiates, Austria pays

When asked, Promberger and Tanner confirmed that the negotiations with the arms company were being conducted by the German government. Austria will formally buy the required systems from Germany. In this context, Tanner emphasized the transparency of the process. Lobbyists’ influence is no longer possible, she said, alluding to the scandal-ridden Eurofighter procurement process.

Tanner and Promberger remained tight-lipped about the costs. This depends on the negotiations, they said when asked by the APA. In this regard, the Defense Minister referred to the development plan for ground-based air defense, which is worth two billion euros. However, not all of it will flow into the Iris-T system. At the same time, Tanner assured the National Council that the National Council would receive detailed information, specifically within the framework of the responsible committees.

Sky Shield should be active from 2026

Tanner described the goal set by her German colleague Boris Pistorius that Sky Shield should be in operation as early as 2026 as “ambitious,” but “feasible,” especially in light of recent developments. The MoU should be transmitted by the German side “in the next few weeks” and then examined by experts in the Ministry of Defense, said Tanner. She indicated that it could be signed around the next meeting of the Sky Shield air force chiefs in November. Estonia and Latvia had already signed a corresponding MoU yesterday, Monday, and Slovenia should follow. Sweden and Egypt are already using Iris-T.

No concerns about neutrality: “Fair-fetched”

Tanner criticized supposed neutrality concerns in connection with Sky Shield as “far-fetched”. There are no constitutional or international law experts who see a connection in this regard. This had already been examined before the declaration of intent signed with Germany in July (together with Switzerland). It is also “not the first time that we have carried out joint procurements (with other countries, note),” she emphasized.

Meanwhile, the FPÖ underlined its skepticism towards Sky Shield. “If Austria is already on the way to NATO and Sky Shield is another building block on this path, the population should at least have the opportunity to vote on it in a referendum,” emphasized FPÖ National Council member Alois Kainz on Tuesday – even before Tanner’s announcement. in a broadcast.

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