German Missiles Headed to Ukraine May Be Obsolete

( Of the 2,700 Strela shoulder-launched missiles Germany sent to Ukraine, as many as 700 may not be functional.

According to a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel, some of the Strela shoulder-launched missiles are no longer operational because they have been sitting in storage for almost 35 years.

The Strela missiles were sent along with a shipment of 1,000 anti-tank missiles and 500 surface-to-air rockets to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia. The Strelas are Soviet-made missiles that were used to defend East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The “Man-Portable Air Defense System” was developed in 1968 and first deployed in 1974 where they were widely used by Soviet forces in Warsaw Pact nations. The missile was designed to detect infrared energy and guide itself using the “hot” signatures from jet engines to find its target.

According to the Daily Sabah, the missiles sent to Ukraine initially belonged to the National People’s Army of the German Democratic Republic, or what was commonly known as East Germany.

The missiles were barred from use by Germany’s federal office for equipment in 2012 due to “microcracks in the ammunition’s propellant charge, which led to corrosion/oxidation,” the Daily Sabah reported.

According to Der Spiegel, many of the wooden boxes in which the missiles were stored had become so moldy soldiers doing inventory were required to wear protective equipment just to enter the storage facility in which they were housed.

The promised 1,000 anti-tank missiles and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles arrived in Ukraine last Wednesday.

The decision to ship arms to Ukraine is a significant about-face for Germany, which has long stuck to the policy of not sending weapons to any conflict zone. Just the day before the weapons transfer was announced, German officials were still reiterating that they would stick with that policy.

Meanwhile, other NATO members have also approved shipments of weapons to Ukraine. The Netherlands and Estonia agreed to send weapons that also come from German or East German stock.