BERLIN --- Germany is nearing a decision to replace its aging short-range air defense systems and help fill a gap that has caused concern among NATO members after Russia's annexation of Crimea, two sources familiar with the issue said.
A decision to move ahead would pave the way for a procurement program valued at 460 million euros through the middle of the next decade, with 2 billion euros in further spending likely in a later phase, said one of the sources. New lasers and radars could be added later at additional cost.
A spokesman said the Defence Ministry had taken an initial look at the issue but had not yet made a decision about how to proceed.
One of the sources said officials had a favorable view of a system developed for Sweden by Diehl Defense, a privately held German weapons maker, which includes a variant of its IRIS-T missile and a dual-cab tracked vehicle built by Hagglunds Vehicle AB, a unit of BAE Systems.
Diehl's IRIS-T missile, used by Germany for its Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, could be adapted for ground-based launch with a software change. The company also builds a longer-range IRIS-T SLS for Sweden's program designed for surface-to-air use.
A spokesman for Diehl declined to comment on the expected decision. Diehl submitted a separate proposal to build a missile for a medium-range air and missile defense system that the German government is evaluating.
Once the decision is finalised, the Defence Ministry will map out its functional requirements, to be completed in May, the source said. That would be followed by development of a formal acquisition strategy. (end of excerpt)
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