Germany asks Sweden for launchers to boost IRIS-T air defences for Ukraine: Spiegel

International Aviation Show "Defence and Support" in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is talking to the Swedish government about buying mobile launchers that would boost the capabilities of IRIS-T air defence systems that Berlin is planning to send to Ukraine, Spiegel magazine reported on Friday, citing sources.

Germany has shipped one IRIS-T system to Ukraine and plans to send more, answering Kyiv's pleas for air defences to repel Russian missile and drone attacks that have wreaked destruction on cities since the start of the invasion nearly a year ago.

The Swedish launchers would help Ukrainian troops protect a larger area against Russian attacks. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck raised the issue on a visit to Sweden this week but the Swedish government has so far declined to supply the launchers, Spiegel reported.

Sweden's armed forces declined comment. The Swedish defence ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

A Swedish defence ministry spokesperson said discussions on supplying weapons to Ukraine would need to be seen in the context that Sweden is geographically close to Russia but not yet a member of the NATO alliance, Spiegel reported.

Sweden's bid to join NATO, along with neighbouring Finland, is currently facing objections from Turkey.

The IRIS-T system is built by privately held German arms maker Diehl and considered among the world's most advanced.

The fire units can launch missiles over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 miles) to take down fighter jets, helicopters, drones, missiles and cruise missiles.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket and Anna Ringstrom; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Gareth Jones)