Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to further deepen defence cooperation this year by putting a German short-range air defence unit under Dutch command, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters on 10 February.
The agreement is that the German air defence unit will be put under the control of the Dutch air defence command in De Peel in south-eastern Holland. Germany’s air defence capacities lie entirely with the German Air Force’s “Flugabwerhrraketengeschwader 1” (FlakRakG 1). Although Reuters gives no details concerning the unit involved, it will doubtless be one from the only close air defence group, the FlaRakGrp 61. Based in Tonendorf (northern Germany), it operates the Wiezel 2 “Ozelot” light air defence weapon carrier and modular MANTIS air defence systems which entered service in April 2012.
Reuters adds that Germany and the Netherlands also plan to jointly develop a new short-range air defence system as part of the expanded cooperation. For its part, Germany is planning to procure the LFK NG short-range missile, developed by MBDA and Diehl BGT Defence, to replace the FIM-92 Stinger currently borne by the Ozelots.
This is not the first time that Berlin and Amsterdam have pooled ground force capacities. Apart from the creation of a Germano-Dutch tank battalion between now and 2019, the two military headquarters recently validated a new operational concept aimed at pooling their Patriot air defence and anti-missile systems following a NATO exercise last October. Placed under the command of the German Surface to Air Missile Operations Centre (SAMOC), this set-up could serve as a model for future multilateral deployments to the East and participate de facto in NATO’s reassurance policy vis-à-vis Poland and the Baltic States, explained at the time the commander of the German Air Force’s ground-based units, Brigadier General Michael Gschossmann.