Four EU countries: Agreement on joint procurement of Mistral 3 air defence systems

Contract signing (Photo: DGA_COMM-ECPAD).
Contract signing (Photo: DGA_COMM-ECPAD).

Four EU countries: Agreement on joint procurement of Mistral 3 air defence systems

Contract signing (Photo: DGA_COMM-ECPAD).
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In a significant step to strengthen the collective security and sovereignty of the European Union, France, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia and Hungary have signed an agreement to jointly procure at least 1.500 Mistral 3 ground-based air defence systems. This cooperation, led by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), could be financially supported by the Law on Strengthening the European Defence Industry through Joint Procurement (EDIRPA), adopted in October 2023.

Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, the manufacturer of the Mistral 3, stressed the importance of this agreement for the European defense industry: "This cooperation is an important step towards strengthening the defense capabilities of the European Union and its Member States and contributes to collective security and sovereignty. This agreement will increase efficiency and increase the resilience of the European defense industry."

Several other countries have already expressed interest in joining this collaboration, which further underlines the importance and attractiveness of this project. Through joint procurement, the countries involved can benefit from economies of scale, reduce costs and improve the interoperability of their defense systems.

Technological superiority of the Mistral 3

The Mistral 3 is a short-range air defense missile (SHORAD) equipped with an infrared homing system. This system enables the so-called "fire-and-forget" function, in which the missile automatically tracks its target after launch. The Mistral 3's advanced image processing functions also allow it to engage targets with a low thermal signature, such as drones, turbo-powered missiles and fast attack vehicles, from long distances.

With a range of up to 8.000 meters and a maximum engagement altitude of 6.000 meters, the Mistral 3 moves at a supersonic speed of 930 meters per second. These performance parameters make it an extremely effective defense system. MBDA highlights the high success rate of over 96% and the exceptional reliability of the Mistral 3, which is currently in service with the French Army and other armed forces around the world.

Supporting Ukraine during the Russian invasion

The effectiveness and reliability of the Mistral 3 was also demonstrated during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. France, Belgium and Estonia were among the countries that supplied Ukraine with Mistral man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). This support helped Ukraine defend itself against Russian attacks and reduce the threat posed by enemy aircraft and missiles.

Joint defence procurement within the European Union represents an important step towards increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of European defence efforts. The EDIRPA law, which was specifically adopted to support such initiatives, plays a central role in this. It enables the pooling of resources and the promotion of cooperation between Member States, which ultimately contributes to strengthening European defence capabilities.

The agreement on the procurement of the Mistral 3 air defence systems could serve as a model for future cooperation. The European defence industry faces the challenge of adapting to an increasingly uncertain global environment while continuously improving technological capabilities. Through such joint procurement initiatives, EU Member States can coordinate and optimise their defence efforts, resulting in a stronger and more resilient European security architecture.

The signing of the agreement on the joint procurement of Mistral 3 air defence systems by France, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia and Hungary marks a significant step in European defence cooperation. This initiative not only strengthens the defence capabilities of the countries involved, but also contributes to the collective security and sovereignty of the European Union. With the technological superiority of the Mistral 3 and the financial support provided by the EDIRPA law, the European defence industry faces a promising future of increased cooperation and efficiency gains.

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Editor of this article:

René Steuer is an editor at Aviation.Direct and specializes in tourism and regional aviation. Before that, he worked for AviationNetOnline (formerly Austrian Aviation Net), among others.
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René Steuer is an editor at Aviation.Direct and specializes in tourism and regional aviation. Before that, he worked for AviationNetOnline (formerly Austrian Aviation Net), among others.
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