VILNIUS – Germany's Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann opened Lithuania Defense Services (LDS), a center for servicing military vehicles, in the central town of Jonava on Wednesday.
The center will provide logistical and maintenance services for combat vehicles owned by Lithuania and its NATO allies, the Defense Ministry and the Lithuanian Armed Forces said.
"Allied deployments in Lithuania require infrastructure; this is not just about living and training conditions," Lithuania's Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupsys said in a press release.
"Today we have opened a workshop where key military equipment will be repaired," he said. "The German companies' investment in this project reflects the right approach to peacetime and wartime maintenance of weapons systems and equipment."
According to Deputy Defense Minister Vilius Semeska, the next step is to manufacture certain parts in Lithuania.
"One of our key conditions in purchasing military equipment is that it is serviced to a high standard and that spare parts are supplied quickly in the country," the vice-minister said. "We had urged Germany's companies to invest in Lithuania for more than a year until we finally got it."
"The next step is cooperation between companies in Lithuanian and the manufacturing country and the production of certain components in our country," he added.
The center in Jonava plans to service the Lithuanian Armed Forces' Vilkas infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), the Lithuanian version of the Boxer multirole armored fighting vehicle.
It also plans to provide maintenance services for other Boxer systems, Puma IFVs, Bergepanzer 3 Bueffel/Buffalo armored recovery vehicles, various versions of the Leopard 2 tank, PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and other military equipment.
"The presence of original equipment manufacturers on the ground will improve the conditions for NATO forces by speeding up response times and ensuring better supply chains," the vice-minister said.
The LDS center of nearly 3,000 square meters has two 16-ton overhead cranes, additional high capacity mobile cranes, a metal workshop, inspection and painting areas, and a wide range of special and testing tools.
The adjoining high-security area of 12,000 meters includes a car wash, warehouses and technical sheds.