Germany has delivered the first Iris-T-SLM air defense system to Ukraine. There it should be used to defend entire cities. But what can the new system do?
Kyiv – The first Iris-T SLM air defense system provided by Germany has arrived in Ukraine. This was confirmed by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov on Tuesday via Twitter. The devastating Russian attacks on major Ukrainian cities at the beginning of the week showed that the country needs such a system.
“A new era of anti-aircraft defense has begun,” said Reznikov, referring to the delivery of the Iris-T. However, this could “only be a start,” the defense minister continued: “We need more.” After the deliveries of the Panzerhaubitze 2000, the anti-aircraft tank Gepard and the multiple rocket launcher MARS-II, the delivery of Iris-T systems is the next level of German arms deliveries as part of the Ukraine war. But what can the air defense system actually do and how is it used?
Iris-T missiles: what can the guided missiles do?
“Iris-T” actually only refers to the guided missiles of the system. They are produced by the German armaments group Diel Defense and are used by the German armed forces, among others. The rockets, which are almost three meters long, weigh 88 kilograms and are used to attack air targets. On the Bundeswehr’s official website, the Iris-T is described as a “fire-and-forget” short-range guided missile. The Luftwaffe equips its Eurofighter and Tornado combat aircraft with Iris-T missiles.
According to the manufacturer, the guided missile Iris-T was developed as part of a European cooperation program as aircraft armament. Various countries are now using the device in their military. These include Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Spain. The manufacturer specifies the range of the Iris-T missiles at around 25 kilometers. German policy has also released delivery to other nations.
Iris-T-SLM air defense system delivered – intended to protect “the whole city from Russian air attacks”.
However, Ukraine will not only receive the missiles from Germany, but the complete air defense system. Its full name: Iris-T-SLM. It is a mobile anti-aircraft system capable of launching missiles from the ground. The system consists of a launcher, a radar and a two-person operations center (Tatical Operation Center).
For example, Iris-T-SLM can be positioned flexibly in cities and intercept incoming enemy missiles. The system is therefore used to protect the population, important buildings and objects and should be able to protect a region effectively against air raids over longer periods of time. In the run-up to the deliveries, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said the system could protect “an entire city from Russian air raids”.
Iris-T-SLM: All information about the German air defense system
A special feature of Iris-T-SLM is the 360 degree surveillance. This allows the system to engage multiple targets at once. Performance-enhanced versions of the Iris-T rockets with the model designation Iris-T SL are used. These should increase the range of the system to around 40 kilometers.
|Type:||air defense system|
|Range:||about 40 km|
|Costs:||approx. 140 million euros per system|
Germany delivers air defense system to Ukraine – How much does Iris-T cost?
However, state-of-the-art air defense is an expensive proposition. Due to the high cost of technology and development time, the price of Iris-T missiles is at first glance very high. According to several sources, the unit price of a missile is estimated at around 400,000 euros. How expensive the performance-enhanced Iris-T SL surface-to-air missiles actually are is not yet known. However, estimates assume that the price should be significantly higher than that of the standard version.
Former Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk admitted in June to the business week the price for an Iris-T-SLM system including missiles at around 140 million euros.
Also because of the high costs, Kyiv will continue to be dependent on support from the West after delivery. Especially since state-of-the-art air defense is often significantly more expensive than the offensive weapons it is trying to fend off. In the past, Russia flew attacks on major Ukrainian cities with comparatively cheap Iranian drones. However, in order to defend an entire country against enemy air attacks, a large number of Iris-T-SLM-type systems are required.
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