Ukraine hails ‘new era’ as German air defence system arrives
By dpa correspondents
Within days of a fresh wave of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, Kiev says it has received Germany’s Iris-T SLM air defence system to fend off future attacks.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Resnikov said on Twitter that “a new era of air defence has begun.”
“Iris-Ts from Germany are already here. American NASAMS are coming,” he wrote.
He thanked German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht for her support for Ukraine, which has been defending itself against a Russian invasion since February.
Lambrecht said on Wednesday on the sidelines of a NATO defence ministers’ meeting that it was important to support Ukraine “in the fight against rocket attacks, against this terror that is being inflicted on the population.”
Germany will initially provide Kiev with four of the €140-million ($136-million) ground-based Iris-T type systems, and funding has been secured for three more. It fires a missile to defend against attacking helicopters, aircraft, cruise missiles or rockets.
One of these systems can protect a medium-sized major city. Iris-T SLM can fire at targets which are up to 20 kilometres in altitude and 40 kilometres in range.
Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on the weapon system in Germany. The industry was responsible for technical support, while specialists from the air force were in charge of the training.
The air defence system is mobile and can quickly change its location once its has been identified by the enemy.
The timing of Ukraine receiving the next three systems depends on Egypt agreeing to a later delivery of its own orders.
The outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk welcomed the arrival of the Iris-T but said military support could not stop there.
“Putin is waging war for the most part against cities, against people, against infrastructure, against power stations. Therefore, we need many more defence systems, including from Germany,” he told dpa.