PARIS – Germany will provide Ukraine with an additional four IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defense systems as part of a military aid package worth more than €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion), the German Defence Ministry said in a statement Thursday. The systems will be supplied from 2025.
The package also includes drones and drone-defense systems, demining vehicles, satellite communications, electronic warfare equipment, directional anti-tank mines and artillery shells, aimed at addressing acute needs of the Ukrainian armed forces, according to the ministry
Germany has become the biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine behind the U.S., after initial reluctance to provide arms. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius earlier this month confirmed plans to boost the country’s military support for Ukraine, in response to media reports the government is seeking to double the aid to €8 billion in 2024.
IRIS-T systems and a second Patriot tracking radar handed over in October will reach Ukraine this year, once Ukrainian personnel have completed their training, the ministry said.
Pistorius announced the support on Nov. 22 in a video conference with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the 17th meeting in the so-called Ramstein format, and said Germany will stand with Ukraine “now and for the long term,” according to the ministry.
In addition to short-term aid, the contact group discussed the long-term capability development of the Ukrainian armed forces. Germany and France will lead a “capability coalition,” bringing together more than 20 countries to establish the Capability Coalition Ground Based Air Defense, the ministry said.
Germany will also support other future capability coalitions, and further steps would be discussed at the next meeting on this topic, expected to take place in Berlin in December.
The German government stands ready make a “significant contribution” to modernizing and upgrading the Ukrainian armed forces, according to the statement.
“The Ukrainian armed forces must be made so strong that they can defeat Russian aggression today and deter any attempt at a further attack tomorrow,’’ the ministry said.
Pistorius pointed out during the support meeting that Germany has made an “enormous contribution” since the start of the war, with Ukraine “massively strengthened” in the area of air defense through the delivery of Patriot and IRIS-T systems, as well as almost 50 Gepard anti-aircraft guns.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in September urged allies to “dig deep” and provide more air defense systems for Ukraine, to help the country fend of barrages of Russian missiles.
Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.