Threat situation intensified: Austria plans to join airspace defense

2023-07-01 16:04:00

Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner (ÖVP) spoke of a “milestone” in defense policy. The neutrality is not endangered by the project, both stressed.

“We must and will take precautions to protect our country from the threat of drone or missile attacks,” Nehammer said in a press release. In airspace surveillance, this is best done together in a European association with other countries.

“For Austria, this is a milestone in the history of defense policy,” emphasized Tanner. “Negotiations are currently underway to examine this cooperation and to clarify how Austria’s participation in this project can look like in concrete terms.”

The neutrality remains unaffected: “It is about participation in a protective shield that serves to avert danger,” said Nehammer and Tanner. “The joint implementation of this project is organizationally and financially only possible and sensible in a European association. No European state can afford the ability for effective airspace defense in view of the new danger situation alone.”

On Friday, Defense Minister Tanner will travel to Bern, where she will meet her counterparts from Germany and Switzerland, Boris Pistorius and Viola Amherd, as part of a trilateral DA-CH meeting. Austria has considered this meeting as a possible date for signing accession to the “European Sky Shield Initiative”, as a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense announced when asked by APA. It is now planned that Tanner will sign the necessary declaration of intent in the presence of Pistorius. However, they did not want to reveal any details before the meeting.

The “European Sky Shield Initiative” (ESSI) came from the EU and NATO country Germany. Since last October, the NATO members Great Britain, Slovakia, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Estonia and Norway have also been involved. Denmark and Sweden also joined the project in February. Against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, “Sky Shield” is intended to help close existing gaps in the current protective shield for Europe.

According to the press release, “Sky Shield” will place a satellite-supported protective shield over the participating countries, which will be able to detect and ward off drones and missiles at an early stage. The increased threat situation is reflected in three factors against which “Sky Shield” is intended to offer the necessary protection: attacks by drones or threats from misguided drones, threats from military aircraft in European airspace, and threats from ballistic or nuclear missiles in European airspace.

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