Latvia is procuring US medium-range missile defense systems

Pressured to present a strong military posture on NATO’s eastern flank, the Latvian government has requested the purchase of six M142 High Mobility Artillery Missile Systems (HIMARS) among other complementary equipment from the US government. deal worth $220 million (211 million euros).

The foreign military sale includes 12 Alternative guided multiple launch missile warheads (GMLRS-AW) ammunition, which has a range of more than 70 kilometers and delivers a 200-pound class fragmentation warhead, and ten M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) cartridges, a single warhead that reaches between 70-300 km.

GlobalData tells us that Latvia’s defense budget is the lowest in the Baltic region, with the company predicting the country’s spending to reach just $1 billion by 2027, while Estonia and Lithuania are expected to reach $1.3bn and £2.2bn respectively.

Thus, this means that it is highly unlikely that Latvia will ever seek to acquire major platforms or capabilities such as fixed-wing combat aircraft, main battle tanks or missile-equipped surface combatants in the same way as its neighbors such as Lithuania, which recently ordered the Leopard 2 as the first fleet MBT.

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From GlobalData

Plans for the acquisition of medium-range air defense systems

However, Latvia is undeterred. Sandwiched between its two Baltic neighbors, the country remains a critical area for security, especially after Russia’s full-scale invasion of the neighboring Ukraine in the southeast.

This prompted the Latvian government to significantly expand its contribution to the collective missile defense policy, in which he was enrolled at the Vilnius summit in June.

Since then, the country has rapidly expanded its missile defense systems (MDS) by jointly purchasing Iris-T medium-range missile systems alongside Estonia last month.

“Until now, only short-range air defense systems were available for the Latvian National Armed Forces, but the IRIS-T [SML] The system will enable effective and comprehensive mid-range defense and is compatible with NATO systems, thus providing benefits not only to Latvia but to the entire region,” said Latvian Defense Minister Ināra Murniece.

HIMARS fits perfectly into Latvia’s mid-range MDS collection.

The system is the newest member of the Multiple Launch Rocket System family developed by the original equipment manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

The MDS is operated by a crew of three: the driver, the gunner and the section chief. However, the computer-based fire control system allows a crew of two or a single soldier to load and unload the system.

The fire control system includes video, keyboard control, one gigabyte of program storage and a global positioning system. The fire control computer allows firing missions in automatic or manual mode.

HIMARS is a versatile system capable of launching the entire family of MLRS munitions, including the extended-range GMLRS, reduced-range practice missile and all future variants, ATACMS and next-generation precision strike missiles (PrSMs).

The contractor will send five representatives along with two US government officials to Latvia to help install the systems in the country.

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