TechUkraine needs them like the air. Germany to provide four systems

Ukraine needs them like the air. Germany to provide four systems

The IRIS-T missile on full display during the MSPO trade fair.
The IRIS-T missile on full display during the MSPO trade fair.
Images source: © Own materials | Przemysław Juraszek

5:21 AM EST, November 22, 2023, updated: 3:01 AM EST, November 23, 2023

Germany recently declared an additional aid package for Ukraine worth 1.3 billion euros. The critical component of this aid package is four batteries of the IRIS-T SLM/SLS air defense systems, along with AT2 mines. Let's explore their functionalities.

Ukraine's latest German aid package comprises essential air defense systems, 20,000 155 mm artillery shells, drones, and AT2 mines, which can be dispersed using MARS II (M270 MLRS) systems.

The IRIS-T air defense systems are of significant value, especially considering the potential for the Russians to repeat large-scale attacks on essential infrastructure during winter. Allegedly, throughout the summer, Russians have been accumulating ballistic missiles and drones, and Ukraine has likely depleted its stockpile of missiles for Soviet air defense systems, with which the war began.

Though some missiles have been sourced from extraordinary directions, such as Jordan, it became essential to replace the Soviet systems with Western ones or integrate them with Western missiles, which is currently underway.

IRIS-T SLM/SLS — Among the Most Advanced Short-Range Air Defense Systems Globally

The land-based air defense systems, IRIS-T SLM and SLS, by Diehl Defence, are developments from the short-range air-to-air missile IRIS-T introduced into service by the Luftwaffe in 2005.

This European development, funded for some time by Germany, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Italy, and Canada, replaced the American AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. Consequently, a highly advanced missile with a reach of about 15.5 miles was crafted, offering remarkable maneuverability achieved through thrust vectoring, among other features.

According to one of the company representatives, IRIS-T can withstand accelerations far beyond 60 G and can be used to counter incoming medium-range missiles and shoot down airplanes.

IRIS-T incorporates a fourth-generation IR sensor, also known as IIR. It is resistant to flares and electronic warfare systems, as the sensor detects not just a heat point but the thermal image of the target. In addition, the warhead's advanced algorithm can execute deceptive attacks, forcing the target to lose energy due to evasive maneuvers before the attack.

IRIS-T missile guidance head

Similar to the NASAMS system, Germany decided to experiment with it as a ground-to-air weapon, creating the ground version of the IRIS-T SL system, which was tested and finalized in 2014.

The first variant of the IRIS-T SLS system used air-to-air missiles for air defense, offering a range of over 6.2 miles when launched from the ground. The second variant, IRIS-T SLM, used different missiles with an extended range of 24.9 miles, facilitated by a larger rocket engine, a communication link, and a GPS and INS navigation set.

The IRIS-T SLS/SLM air defense systems have been deployed in Sweden, Norway, Egypt, and Ukraine, where they have performed exceptionally well. Reports from Ukraine even state a 100% interception rate, which is likely to generate export success in the ensuing years.

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