Germany's IRIS-T air defense system to arrive in Ukraine this autumn

Germany's IRIS-T air defense system to arrive in Ukraine this autumn

According to Kiev s ambassadors, the German-made IRIS-T air defense system will arrive in Ukraine later this year.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin Andrey Melnyk told local media on Friday that Germany's most advanced IRIS-T air defense system will arrive in Ukraine around mid-autumn. The combative envoy said he has thanked Berlin for the only thing he has thanked in the last few months.

The air defense system that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to Kiev in early June will be produced at the end of summer, Melnyk told the Novoye Vremya newspaper, adding that Ukrainian soldiers will have to undergo training to learn how to use it. He said that the system is expected to arrive in October.

The IRIS-T system is the only thing I thanked the chancellor and the German government over the past months, said Melnyk, who has been known for his criticism of the German authorities after the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian envoy has repeatedly scolded Berlin over not providing enough military aid to Kiev, and particularly delaying heavy weapon deliveries Ukraine desperately requested for.

Melnyk said that the IRIS-T air defense system is the coolest in the world, on par with the US Patriot systems. He also praised Germany's decision to send not some old designs to Ukraine, but rather a cutting-edge weapon.

The ambassador said that the system, which is to be delivered in October, will only be used to protect the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. He said that other major Ukrainian cities could expect similar systems to defend them no sooner than in three or four years.

The ambassador has blasted the German government for not providing Ukraine with a single piece of heavy equipment to date. He said that some of the German PzH 2000 howitzers were due to arrive in Ukraine on June 22, the day Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. At the time, Ukraine was one of the first to see its territory attacked by the Nazis.

When Scholz promised the IRIS-T to Ukraine on June 1, it caused some confusion in Germany since a spokesman for the Bundeswehr told reporters that the German military itself did not have such weapons in stock.

The Bundeswehr has only two IRIS-T systems in its arsenal, which are air-to-air missiles mounted on its Eurofighter and Tornado fighters. Ukraine is set to receive a ground-based version of this system, which is produced by German arms manufacturer Diehl amongst others. According to a defense blog run by journalist Thomas Wiegold, the company is capable of producing two such systems per year.

In early June, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the parliament that the planned delivery of the air-defense system to Ukraine would take a while. In May, German tabloid Bild reported that the ground-based IRIS-T SLM systems could be deployed in November by Ukraine.