During the presentation of the National Strategic Review [RNS] on November 9, President Macron, without naming it, criticized Germany for its “European Sky Shield” initiative, which aims to unite several European countries that are members of NATO around an air defense system, thanks to the joint acquisition of the required capacity.
For the tenant of the Élysée, “the air defense of our continent” is a “strategic, solidarity issue with multiple consequences” which “cannot be reduced to promoting a national industry or third-party industries at the expense of European sovereignty”.
The initiative launched by Berlin, in which fifteen countries have expressed interest, will consist of deploying several air defense systems, including IRIS-T SLM from Diehl Defence, THAAD or Arrow-3 [mis au point par Israël avec une aide américaine, ndlr] and Patriot PAC-3. At no time did the Franco-Italian Mamba system [ou SAMP/T pour Sol Air Moyenne Portée – Terrestre] was not considered by Berlin, nor was other equipment developed by France. And that is why Paris and Rome stay away from this German project.
Project, as in the eyes of Emmanuel Chiva, General Delegate for Arms [DGA] is a bit “surprising”. And to explain it during a hearing in the National Assembly, arranged on 30 November 2022 [le compte-rendu vient d’être publié, nldr].
“France is able to respond to several protection areas targeted” by the European Sky Shield Initiative [ESSI] : very short range, short and medium range, and endo-atmospheric interceptors. I am not going back on the early warning option,” Mr Chiva first reminded the MPs.
“Currently, the Israeli Arrow 3s and German Iris-Ts cannot meet the needs, as there is no interface that allows these operational systems to be connected to a unified structure in the form of C2, unlike the French solutions, which already have the necessary programming interfaces ”, then explained the DGA.
Furthermore, noting that signing a letter of intent, as many NATO countries do, “does not constitute a commitment in itself”, Mr Chiva insisted on the fact that “the requirement for interconnection presupposes going back to the European Commission and NATO” and that “interoperability is not ‘ITAR interoperability,'” referring to U.S. regulations that allow the import and export of military equipment components to be controlled. “We don’t need to take American equipment to meet this requirement,” he said.
Also, Mr. Chiva concluded, it is therefore important to be able to propose solutions, not only French, but European, and to build together a sovereign and interoperable air defense system”.
Moreover, during another hearing in the National Assembly, a few days earlier, Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean, the Director General of the General Staff of the European Union, also mentioned this German initiative. And not in binding terms…
“The positions of France and Germany are today diametrically opposed on all subjects [y compris l’énergie, etc.]. The Sky Shield initiative is a real snub for France,” he said. “Although these issues exceed my level of responsibility, I believe that we must encourage the Commission to play its role. The French Commissioner, Thierry Breton, must have a strong voice and action in the preservation of the European defense industrial and technological base” , he then assessed.
In addition, Admiral Bléjean also argued, “the nationality of the chairman of the commission [Ursula von der Leyen, qui est allemande, ndlr] is regularly expressed in his remarks”. And to add: “The German discourse in particular tends to return to the sources of NATO and to make the European Union a subject of second priority”.