Written by Meredith Kahan
In response to the Russian war on Ukraine, neighbouring countries have decided to take concrete steps towards strengthening their air security. On October 13, 2022, fourteen NATO member countries, plus Finland, signed a Letter of Intent initiating the development of a “European Sky Shield Initiative” (NATO, n.d.). The European Sky Shield Initiative creates a joint defence system “through the common acquisition of air defence equipment and missiles by European nations” (NATO, n.d.). Furthermore, the project enhances interoperability between the countries and strengthens NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence (NATO IAMD).
The NATO IAMD, originally realized in 1961, has developed from “a largely stative system arrayed in belts against a uni-directional and well-defined threat of manned aircraft” (NATO, n.d.) into “a [a flexible and highly responsive] network of interconnected national and NATO systems comprised of sensors, command and control assets, and weapons systems” (NATO, n.d.). The new European Sky Shield Initiative adds to the current NATO IAMD through a jointly developed missile defence system which relies on previously developed technology and interoperability between the signatories.
In response to the planned European Sky Shield Initiative, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană is quoted stating, “The new assets, fully interoperable and seamlessly integrated within the NATO air and missile defence, would significantly enhance our ability to defend the Alliance from all air and missile threats” (NATO, n.d.).
The signatories, of the letter of intent to initiate the development of the European Sky Shield Initiative, are Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, the United Kingdom.
NATO. (n.d.). 14 NATO Allies and Finland agree to boost European air defence capabilities. NATO. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_208103.htm
NATO. (n.d.). Integrated air and missile defence(Nato iamd). NATO. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_8206.htm