Latvia could receive missile defense systems within two to three years - defense minister

  • 2023-09-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Latvia could receive various missile defense systems within two to three years, and talks are underway on the possibility of delivering them earlier, outgoing Defense Minister Inara Murniece (National Alliance) said in an interview on TV3 channel.

The relatively long delivery time is basically due to the fact that these products are currently in very high demand, the minister said. Currently, Latvian airspace is mainly protected by NATO air patrols.

The Latvian defense ministry has three missile system projects - coastal defense against ships, medium range air defense systems and missile artillery.

Latvia and Estonia have jointly chosen to purchase the IRIS-T medium-range air defense system, which means that this will be the largest military procurement since Latvia regained its independence. The potential value of  the contract and other details are not being disclosed, but deliveries of the systems could start in 2025. It was previously reported that around EUR 600 million could be spent on air defense systems.

Last autumn, the Defense Ministry entered into negotiations with the US on the purchase of Naval Strike Missile (NSM) anti-ship missile systems from Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. The ministry is also continuing the procurement process for six Himars missile artillery systems from the US.

In the defense minister's assessment, the Latvian army is currently developing very rapidly.

She noted that military planning documents have also been significantly improved. For instance, Latvia's recently approved new defense concept is "a document written in wartime", with relevant incorporation of current threats. The new NATO defense plans for the Baltic states are also much more thorough and foresee the defense of the territory from the first centimeter.

Murniece added that work has started on strengthening Latvia's eastern border also from the military point of view, for instance, anti-mobility measures are needed in the border area.