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Cruise Missile Defenses

EXPERT PERSPECTIVE – Following recent Russian airstrikes on Kyiv, Germany sent the first of four planned IRIS-T SLM air defense systems to Ukraine.  France, the UK and the Netherlands all promised to speed up new air defense system packages.  And the US has now delivered a few units of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, known as NASAMS.

As Kyiv calls for air defense systems to counter Russian strikes, others are also assessing their missile defense systems. Latvia has asked NATO to establish a missile shield over the Baltic states to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank against potential Russian attacks. Fifteen NATO allies recently pushed this further by signing a letter of intent to develop a German-led missile shield over Europe under the “European Sky Shield Initiative.” In the Middle East, Israel and a number of Arab countries have considered joint missile defenses against potential Iranian attacks. Israel’s recent sale of advance air defense systems to the United Arab Emirates underscores the new urgency to address this threat.

The US has also expressed concern over heightened missile threats. The Biden administration’s recently released Missile Defense Review (MDR) focuses on the cruise missile threat, highlighting heightened risks with the development of hypersonic technology.  In addition to regional threats in Europe and the Middle East against US overseas military bases and allies, the MDR also notes threats to the homeland.