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21 May, 2024 19:39

Poland to reveal plans for ‘European iron dome’

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that he has been working with other EU leaders on introducing missile defense system
Poland to reveal plans for ‘European iron dome’

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said that in the coming days he and other EU leaders will present plans for an Israel-style ‘iron dome’ missile defense network. However, opposition leaders in Warsaw claim that such a system would primarily benefit the German arms industry.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) announced on Monday that it would give Poland €300 million ($326 million) toward the creation of a reconnaissance satellite system, which could eventually be integrated into an EU-wide missile defense network. 

“Creating an iron dome against missiles and drones is necessary,” Tusk said at a press conference with EIB president Nadia Calvino in Warsaw. “The recent attack on Israel showed how essential such systems are. There is no reason for Europe not to have its missile defense shield.”

“Satellite and reconnaissance systems will be an essential part of this project, which I will present together with other European prime ministers in a few days,” Tusk continued, adding that “the idea of ​​pan-European air defense will become less and less a dream and more and more a real, practical plan.”

Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, the Iron Dome has been used by Israel since 2011 to track, intercept, and destroy incoming rockets, missiles, and drones. While the Israeli military claims that the Iron Dome can intercept around 90% of incoming projectiles, some analysts put the true figure at 30%. Even at higher estimates, Iran’s recent drone and missile attack on Israel demonstrated that by firing enough projectiles, the system can be overwhelmed and defeated.

Tusk’s European Iron Dome would not be a Polish-led project. Instead, Poland would join the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI), which was first proposed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in 2022. More than 20 other EU countries have since signed up to the initiative and, following a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen last month, Tusk spoke of “my intention for Poland to join this project.”

Before Tusk’s Civic Platform party took power last year, the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) had refused to join the German-led scheme. The PiS is still the country’s leading opposition party and remains opposed to the idea, with former Defense Minister Mariusz Blasczak arguing last month that the ESSI “favors the German arms industry” and is “much more expensive and much less advanced” than Poland’s existing air defense system.

President Andrzej Duda, a member of the PiS, has also shot down Tusk’s plan, calling the ESSI a “German business project.”

According to the German military, the ESSI will consist of US-supplied Patriot missile batteries and German medium-range IRIS-T missile launchers, as well as Israeli Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missiles. 

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