Ukraine is to receive further weapons from German stocks to defend against air attacks. According to military sources, the weapons in question are 2700 older surface-to-air missiles that are fired from the shoulder and can hit helicopters and airplanes. At the time of the fall of communism in 1989, the Soviet-manufactured "Strela" (arrow) missiles were in large numbers in the possession of the National People's Army of the GDR (NVA).
Despite its age - first use was in the 1960s - the weapon is still relatively widespread today. It functions at a technically lower level, similar to the American "Stinger" missiles, of which the Air Force recently offered 500 from its stocks and has already handed them over in the meantime. Strela missiles also find their target by infrared heat sensor. Germany had later passed on part of the stocks to Eastern European NATO partners, similar to NVA howitzers to Estonia, which could now be passed on to Ukraine after a change in security policy last week.
According to information from the Bundeswehr, there are still about 2500 of these weapons in an ammunition depot in Baden-Württemberg, which is also used by the Special Forces Command (KSK). As the magazine "Der Spiegel" reported some time ago, however, the missiles are said to be in poor condition due to their age; among other things, small cracks have been discovered.
The Strelas have been closed for use since 2012, according to the Armaments Office in Koblenz. The cause, however, was merely "mold growth" in the ammunition boxes, not damage to the missiles themselves. Nevertheless, they were intended for disposal.
However, it is also possible that the delivery came from the stocks of eastern partners. This would be supported by the fact that the first report on this came from the Ministry of Economics, which would have to approve the transfer of war weapons sold abroad. The Ministry of Defense can transfer weapons from its own stocks even without such approval. In 2015, for example, the Kurdish Peshmerga were equipped with anti-tank weapons for the fight against the "Islamic State" and recently the aforementioned Stinger missiles and anti-tank weapons were supplied to Ukraine.
Image by Rafal Flasza