Germany bolsters military aid to Ukraine with a 2nd IRIS-T SLM air defense missile system

On April 26, 2023, the German Ministry of Defense updated the list of military aid to Ukraine and confirms the delivery of a second IRIS-T SLM air defense system to the Ukrainian armed forces as well as 84 Zetros trucks and two load-handling trucks 8x6 with 8 roll-off containers.
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Launcher unit of German-made IRIS-T SLM air defense missile system. (Picture source Wikimedia)

Citing urgent requests from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, air defense systems remain a top priority in defending the country against the Russian invasion. Indeed, every day, the Russian armed forces target Ukrainian army positions and major cities using drones, missiles, and aerial attacks with aircraft and helicopters.

Russian forces have significantly increased their air attacks on major Ukrainian cities since April 28. Over 20 cruise missiles and two drones targeted Kyiv and other parts of the country, resulting in explosions in central cities such as Kremenchuk and Poltava, as well as Mykolaiv in the south, according to Interfax Ukraine news agency.

The intensified aerial attacks come as Kyiv is believed to be on the brink of launching a counter-offensive to retake Russian-occupied territories. Ukraine's military managed to shoot down 21 out of 23 Russian cruise missiles.

The capital city, Kyiv, activated its anti-aircraft system in response to the attacks. Air raid sirens were heard around 4 am, with the alert lasting for about two hours. This marks the first assault on Kyiv since March 9.

Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi reported that the missiles originated from aircraft operating in the Caspian Sea region. The Kyiv city authority stated that Ukraine's air force successfully intercepted 11 cruise missiles and two drones over the city.

As tensions escalate, the world watches closely to see how the situation will unfold and what impact Kyiv's counteroffensive may have on the ongoing conflict.

The IRIS-T SLM (Surface Launched Missile) is a ground-based air defense system developed by Diehl Defence, a German company. It is derived from the IRIS-T (InfraRed Imaging System-Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) air-to-air missile, which is used by various countries' air forces. The IRIS-T SLM is designed to provide short to medium-range defense against a range of aerial threats, including aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Ukraine is the first country in the world to receive the IRIS-T SLM air defense system. The missile is capable of engaging targets at distances of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) and at altitudes of up to 20 kilometers (12 miles). The actual range and effectiveness of the system depend on factors such as the target's altitude, speed, and evasive maneuvers.