Brussels: A German firm is trying to develop a space-based system for detecting when medium-range missiles are fired, which could protect Europe without annoying Russia, a company official said Friday.
“We are studying a concept of an alternative system which could protect Europe without the global political impact” of the controversial US anti-missile shield, said Fritz Merkle at German firm OHB.
The system, on which research began early last year using German government funds and private sector money, would consist of five satellites orbiting roughly around the equator.
“It could be done in the range of 500 millions euros (744 million dollars) to protect our territories,” said Merkle, who is a board member and head of business development at OHB.
“It could be one element in an anti-missile defence system,” he said.
Last month, US President Barack Obama said that Washington was dropping a controversial plan to place an anti-missile radar facility in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland.
Russia had angrily criticised the US missile defence plans, saying that they threatened its national security, and threatened a missile deployment in its Kaliningrad exclave as retaliation.
The missile defence plans were launched in 2007 by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. The system was aimed at defending US territory, but by coincidence offered protection to a number of European nations.
The plans were dropped as Iran was thought to no longer pose a long-range missile threat.
To reassure NATO allies, Obama called for a more mobile system targeting short- and medium-range missiles initially using sea-based interceptors, but later ones on land including from other nations, to protect them more quickly.
While initially satisfied with the move, Moscow has recently expressed scepticism.
“The political correctness of the system is that it would be designed for medium latitudes: that means all the long-range Russian missiles are not in the detection range,” said Merkle.