Germany to offer Poland Patriot system after stray missile crash

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht delivers a speech during a swearing-in ceremony for new recruits at the Bendlerblock, the German Ministry of Defense, in Berlin, Germany, November 12, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Mang/File Photo

BERLIN, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Germany has offered Warsaw the Patriot missile defence system to help it to secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed in Poland last week, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht told a newspaper on Sunday.

The German government had already said it would offer its neighbour further help in air policing with German Eurofighters after the incident, which initially raised fears that the war in Ukraine could spill across the border.

"We have offered Poland support in securing airspace - with our Eurofighters and with Patriot air defence systems," Lambrecht told the Rheinische Post and General Anzeiger.

The missile that hit Poland last week, killing two people, appeared to have been fired by Ukraine's air defences rather than a Russian strike, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said.

Ground-based air defence systems such as Raytheon's (RTX.N) Patriot are built to intercept incoming missiles.

NATO has moved to strengthen air defences in eastern Europe since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February. More than a dozen NATO allies led by Germany in October kicked off an initiative to jointly procure air defence systems for several layers of threats, including Patriot.

Germany had 36 Patriot units when it was NATO's frontline state during the Cold War. German forces currently have 12 Patriot units, two of which are deployed to Slovakia.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Madeline Chambers. Editing by Jane Merriman

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