December 14, 2017


Germany does not possess nuclear weapons, nor would it be a threat even if it did. It did, however, play important role in the negotiations about the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the USA and USSR in the late 1980’s when the former Chancellor of West Germany unilaterally decided to dismantle all the Pershing IA missiles after dismantling IRBMs of the USA and USSR.

Germany played a major role in the joint development of Medium Extended Air Defense Systems (MEADS) with the USA and Italy. MEADS International, with participating Lockheed Martin and MBDA earned the selection to start making what would be called the MEADS system, which would be run with a large amount of support from MBDA Deutschland GmbH. After litigious protests by the losing companies, MEADS garnered a definitive contract for $2 billion and € 1.4 billion. Since then, the Italian and German Branches of MBDA started developing anti-missile systems while the United States continued to bolster its own missile defense initiative.

In 2008, Germany began developing a laser-based ground-mobile anti-missile system, which uses of a concentrated beam of infrared laser that can track, identify and destroy missiles.[i] Tests run with the new laser have proven its proficiency in taking down missiles as far as 2km away. This same technology will be used in the future to develop anti-IED and anti-artillery systems.

Ballistic Missile Defense Capabilities in Germany

 System Operator Number Deployed Platform


United States

Three battalions

One battalion

 Ground-based; road-mobile  
Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC)  United States One Operations Center  

Germany is equipped with PAC-3 Patriot missile batteries. Germany also has an unknown number of MIM-23 Hawks and an unknown number of  LeFlaSys defense systems which are short range air defense systems. The LeFlaSys has an approximate detection range of 20km.

Air Defense Capabilities in Germany

System Role Number Deployed Platform
Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Medium-range air defense  Three Sachsen class frigates
MIM-23 Hawk Medium-range air defense  Unknown Ground-based; road-mobile  
Skyshield 35 Short-range air defense Unknown Ground-based
LeFlaSys Short-range air defense Unknown Ground-based; road-mobile  

Current Developments

In June of 2015, the German Federal Ministry of Defense chose the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) as the basis for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS), a next-generation network-based tactical air and missile defense system.[ii] It will replace Patriot air defense systems initially fielded in the 1980s.

As of June 2017, the German government hopes to complete negotiations with European weapons maker MBDA and its US partner Lockheed Martine Corporation about a multi-billion-euro defense system by the end of the year. The German parliament could review and approve the proposed contract as early as 2018.[iii]

In November 2017, German airman from the Surface Air and Missile Defense Wing 1 worked with soldiers from 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment to create an integrated air and missile defense system construct as part of a NATO tactical evaluation.[iv]

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International Cooperation