On June 22, the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) and Diehl Defence signed a contract for the procurement of six fire units of the IRIS-T SLM medium-range ground-based air defence system. Diehl Defence as prime contractor with its partners HENSOLDT and Airbus will provide the first fire unit to the Air Force as scheduled in 2024. The procurement will close an existing capability gap in the area of ground-based air defence in the German Armed Forces and strengthen national and alliance defence. Due to the training which was provided to Ukrainian soldiers, the German Air Force is already familiar with the system. At the same time, the procurement of IRIS-T SLM for Germany marks the start of the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI), which further nations can join.
IRIS-T SLM, consisting of the components missile launcher, radar and tactical operations center, is designed for the countering of threats posed by enemy aircraft, helicopters, missiles and drones at a range of up to 40 km and a height of up to 20 km. It is supplemented by support elements such as workshop, spare parts and reloading vehicles. The system is characterized by its high tactical mobility, deployability of the missile launchers and multiple target engagement with low manpower requirements. The IRIS-T SLM system convinces with its excellent performance in operational use in Ukraine. According to the customer, the system achieved a 100 percent hit rate even in waves of attack with more than 12 targets.
The IRIS-T (InfraRed Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) is a medium range infrared homing air-to-air missile available in both air-to-air and ground defence surface-to-air variants. It also is called AIM-2000. The missile was developed in the late 1990s–early 2000s by a German-led program to develop a short to medium range infrared homing air-to-air missile to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder in use by some NATO member countries at the time. A goal of the program was for any aircraft capable of firing the Sidewinder to also be capable of launching the IRIS-T. The air-to-air variant was fielded in 2005. Surface-to-air defence systems variants came later, with the short-range IRIS-T SLS fielded in 2015, and the medium-range IRIS-T SLM fielded in 2022. The IRIS-T SLM can counter surface-to-air missiles and cruise missiles, including low-flying, stealthy missiles such as the Kalibr.
The system house Diehl Defence is system integrator of all components for IRIS-T SLM and also supplies the missile launcher and guided missiles. HENSOLDT provides the TRML-4D multi-functional radar. The Integrated Battle Management Software Fire Control (IBMS-FC) for the command post comes from Airbus. The joint solutions from Diehl Defence, Airbus and HENSOLDT are independent of foreign technology and therefore offer the highest degree of accreditation and certification for operation in Germany and the highest possible supply security. They are fully compatible with NATO’s integrated air defence architecture and have demonstrated their interoperability. Diehl Defence is expanding its market position as a leading system house for air defence systems with products in operational use and strengthening its importance as a pillar of the European defence industry. With the signing of the contract by Germany, a total of seven nations have opted for air defence systems from Diehl Defence.