Germany’s purchase of Israel’s Arrow 3 missiles done by November


In an exclusive interview in parallel to Israel’s participation in the Invictus Games in Germany, German Air Force Chief Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz reassured the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the final contract for the sale of Israel’s Arrow 3 missile defense system will be signed by November.

Gerhartz’s reassurance was important because even though that has been the timeline the parties had put out, the pre-contract signing which originally might have occurred in late August will only take place at the end of September- almost a month later.

But with the German Air Force chief confirming the timeline, all signals are that the month-long delay for the pre-contract signing has not impacted the final contract signing or the bigger picture of delivering the systems in 2025.

Gerhartz recounted how his part in the Israel-Germany air force relationship took a major boost starting in 2018. Then in 2020, he said the Israeli Air Force came to Germany to fly along the Dachau concentration camp from the Holocaust.

“Then I came to fly over Jerusalem, for the 75 years anniversary of the State of Israel, we were part of the overflight. The State of Israel invited us to be part of the anniversary, looking back to the Holocaust, we are now at a remarkable point,” he said.

Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin meeting with Commander of the Kingdom’s Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed al-Alawi, Commander of the German Airforce Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, November 14, 2021. (credit: LUFTWAFFE/KEVIN SCHRIEF)

Next, he stated, “We must continue to bring young officers to Israel and Israeli soldiers to Germany/ It is more than bringing soldiers together, it is bringing people together. One important topic we work on a lot together is the sale of the Arrow 3. This is really special, and that is something we are looking forward to.”

Further, he said that in late September the pre-contract signing ceremony would allow “Israel Aerospace Industries to move on long lead items to start producing the product. To have the first system in Germany by the end of 2025, we really have to speed it up, and I am quite convinced that with IAI pushing and Germany pushing from its side, this should be possible.”

German parliament Defense Committee Chairwoman Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman told the Post, “We were talking about bringing the Invictus Games in the Bundestag for five years going back to 2018. After a while, we knew that Germany would host these games. Then it was between Dusseldorf and Cologne. My family lives near here,” in Dusseldorf.

“I am very happy. Everyone in the city was really touched and helpful. More than 1,000 people are helping for this huge event and everyone is just in a very good mood. I am very happy to tell you about the Israeli team coming to this,” she said.

Germany: Great honor to have Israeli athletes

The German Defense Committee Chairwoman stated, “For us, it was a very important and happy moment,” that Israel and Israeli officials came to join the games and it is a great honor that your athletes are here.”

“To see the Israelis. To see all the guests. More than 50,000 guests. To see the flag of Israel and to see all of the athletes. For people living here to see the Israeli team here. It is so important for the atmosphere. To see the opening ceremony, when the Israelis came in, people were touched to see them,” said Strack-Zimmerman.

Moreover, she said, “I am very close to the Jewish society in Dusseldorf. I am 65, for me, it is very important to have good relations between Germany and Israel. For me and for my colleagues at the German defense committee, it is really good that Israel is part of the team.”

“Like I said already, it is very important for society, in this city, in this country, to see how close we are. To read about it, to see it on TV, to see we are still going strong together,” she added.

Gerhartz also commented on the Israeli athletes at the Invictus Games, saying, “I met one of the sportsmen from the Israeli team who was riding a bike, who lost one of his legs when he was 20 years old and a paratrooper. We did a training session. It was the first time I ever rode a special bike sitting that low.”

“We trained together and it was remarkable. He is 63 years old and lived two-thirds of his life on one leg. He was so motivated, engaged, and grateful for the hospitality in Germany. It gave me a great feeling to do a training session with him,” said the Air Force chief.

Discussing the IDF Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, Gerhartz said, “The US Air Force is the biggest in the world, but the most operational air force is the Israeli Air Force, Every commander I met, starting with [Eliezer] Shkedy years ago, and then Amikam Norkin, and now Tomer Bar have been amazing.”

“At an operational level, they are all outstanding operators. They are serious and live in a live scenario. But once they are sitting in an aircraft, flying a fighter jet, you have the feeling that they are 20 years old again. Tomer is not the type of guy who always makes jokes. But when sitting in an aircraft, you have the feeling that, he too, is 20 years old again,” he said, when asked if Bar ever showed a lighter side.

In addition, he said, “We will fly in the exercise Blue Flag again in November, and will hopefully have the opportunity to go airborne together.” noting he flew with Norkin side by side over the Knesset in 2021.

German drone pilots receive their training together in a combined squadron. He said the pilots “do all of their training and flying in Israel together.”

With the 6th Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, their goal is to “give soldiers who are wounded, injured or ill in body and soul a greater awareness and recognition in society and to support their path in rehabilitation.”