Europe’s call for an integrated air-defense system intensified in recent weeks.
The German Council on Foreign Relations recently urged fellow NATO allies on the continent to band together and sharpen their focus on short- to medium-range air defense.
The call from Germany is based on the assumption that air superiority can no longer be taken for granted in future conflicts. Researchers had a few points for the partners on the continent to consider. First is the fact that the Alliance has simply not been keeping up with maintaining NATO’s current system. Many batteries throughout the continent, especially those designed to deal with short-range threats, have been put out of commission or even outright dismantled in recent years, exposing many areas of Europe to threats from the sky. Second, the playing field of air warfare has leveled out in recent years, with more countries deploying aircraft, missiles and drones capable of threatening NATO from the skies.
Of course it’s not only nation states that are attaining new types of air weapons. In the age of drone-armed militant groups, Europe’s call for an integrated air defense has a bit more urgency than it did ten years ago.
It should be noted that efforts to shore up Europe’s air defense is a major factor in the ongoing feud between Turkey and the United States over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile-defense system. Turkey is a NATO ally. The U.S. —as well as the rest of Europe— expect Turkey to participate in the continent’s air-defense efforts. The fact that a Russian system will play a primary role in their air defense will make it exceedingly difficult —and likely unsafe— to integrate Turkey into a continent-wide air-defense scheme.