NATO says 'rolling out' rotational air defense in Baltics, but gives no details

  • 2024-03-25
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – NATO is moving forward with plans for rotational air defense in the Baltic states, but is not commenting on details. 

"I'm not gonna talk about specific nations supporting specific capabilities in specific countries (...), but we are rolling that out from now," NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe Keith Blount told BNS during his visit to Vilnius last week. 

According to the admiral, rotational air defense is "a very important aspect" of NATO's deterrence posture.

"And of course it is receiving a lot of attention at the moment within the Alliance," he said.

NATO countries agreed on a rotational air defense model last June in response to calls from the Baltic states to reinforce the current air policing mission.

Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said in early March that a rotational air defense system would be operational later this year and that Patriot air defense systems would be deployed in Lithuania. However, he did not name any specific countries or give dates.

Blount said that "it's not just about Patriots".

"Let's be clear. When people think about air missile defense, they very often move immediately to systems like Patriots. An integrated air missile defense system is a system of sensors and shooters and shooters of varying degrees. Of capability," he told BNS.

"If you look to Ukraine, the extraordinary innovation that Ukraine has demonstrated to us all is the development of an acoustic system to detect and indeed shoot at Shahed drones very, very successfully. It's not just about Patriots."

Lithuania has discussed the possibility of deploying air defense capabilities in the region with Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece, but has not yet reached any concrete agreements.

The admiral said that the current confrontation between NATO and Russia reminds him of the Cold War era, but noted that, unlike back then, the Alliance now has 32 member states focused on collective defense. 

With Russia increasingly shifting towards a wartime economy, Blount urged NATO member countries to accelerate their defense industries as well.

"We must absolutely make sure that we are standardized, that we have the defense industry operating at the capacity that we require," the admiral said.  

"If we can make things faster, then we can fire them, and if we can fire them faster than they can fire them, then we're always going to win," he added.