Germany Approves Sale of 150 IRIS-T Missiles to Saudi Arabia

IRIS-T missiles are compatible with the sought-after Eurofighter Typhoon jets by Riyadh
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  • 02:42 PM, January 10, 2024
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Germany Approves Sale of 150 IRIS-T Missiles to Saudi Arabia
Eurofighter Typhoon fires IRIS-T guided missile @Bundeswehr

Germany has reportedly decided to break its longstanding embargo on the defense industry with Saudi Arabia, approving the sale of 150 IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, which can be armed on Eurofighter Typhoon jets that Riyadh is seeking.

The decision, taken by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and security-related ministers, marks a shift in Germany's foreign policy.

The German Federal Security Council granted authorization for the export of the IRIS-T missiles to Saudi Arabia, ending a period during which Germany had imposed restrictions on arms sales to the Middle Eastern nation. This decision opens the door for the first direct sales of German military equipment to Riyadh in a considerable amount of time, Germany magazine Spiegel wrote Wednesday.

The missile agreement, initially submitted by the Ministry of Economy to the Federal Parliament Economic Affairs Committee, has paved the way for Diehl Defense, the manufacturer of IRIS-T, to fulfill the order from Saudi Arabia.

Government Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit, speaking in Berlin, confirmed the approval of the missile delivery, clarifying that these are air-to-air missiles and not similar to the ongoing conflict involving IRIS-T missiles in Ukraine.

The IRIS-T missile, developed under the leadership of Diehl Defense in collaboration with international partners, has been a standard weapon for various aircraft, including the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet, F-16, Gripen, Tornado, EF-18, KF-21, F-5E, FA50, and IAR-99 platforms. With over 5,000 missiles produced since 2005, its versatility extends beyond engaging enemy warplanes, also targeting air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.

Related news: German Chancellor Announces Shift in Policy, Opening Door for Eurofighter Sale to Saudi Arabia

The German governing coalition, consisting of the Social Democratic, Green, and Free Democratic parties, initially upheld a policy against weapons sales to parties involved in Yemen's civil war, including Saudi Arabia. This stance was rooted in concerns over human rights violations committed by Riyadh. However, the recent decision to approve the sale of IRIS-T missiles signals a departure from this policy.

The original prohibition on arms sales to Saudi Arabia was linked to the country's support for the Yemeni government against Houthi rebels. Nevertheless, the change is attributed to Saudi Arabia's perceived constructive role in preventing an escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, sparking debate over Germany's evolving foreign policy priorities.

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