Poland, Miaczyn: A Bundeswehr soldier stands on a trailer with launching pads for guided missiles of the Patriot air defence system in southeastern Poland. File photo by Sebastian Kahnert/dpa
NATO members in Europe have signed a contract for up to 1,000 Patriot missiles to bolster air defences in the face of the threat from Russia, the alliance said on Wednesday.
The announcement of the contract, estimated to be worth $5.5 billion, comes as Moscow has unleashed repeated barrages of deadly missile and drone strikes against Ukraine in recent days.
NATO’s procurement agency said the deal agreed by an initial group of countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain would see Patriot missile production stepped up in Europe.
Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the “timely announcement to invest in up to 1,000 new Patriot air defence missiles to bolster the alliance’s security”.
“Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian civilians, cities and towns show how important modern air defences are. Scaling-up ammunition production is key for Ukraine’s security and for ours,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
NATO allies including the United States and Germany have sent US-made Patriot systems to Ukraine where they have been used to shoot down attacks by Russia’s hypersonic missiles.
But the deliveries of the missiles to Kyiv have sapped Western stocks and forced Washington to turn to allies such as Japan to help replenish inventories.
The NATO Support and Procurement Agency said the new contract would see a missile production facility set up in Germany by a joint venture between Germany’s MBDA and Raytheon, part of the US group RTX.
“Europe will produce 1,000 Patriot air defence missiles itself. This shows that European cooperation ensures concrete successes,” Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren wrote on social media.
Patriot missiles are estimated to cost around $4 million each and NATO said the deal also includes other elements including test equipment and spare parts for future maintenance.
© Agence France-Presse