VILNIUS – Lithuania has joined the German-led European Sky Shield Initiative to develop air defense capabilities in Europe through joint acquisitions, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas and his counterparts from 14 other countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and the United Kingdom – signed in Brussels a letter of intent for the development of the initiative.
According to the Lithuanian ministry, the initiative is aimed at carrying out joint acquisitions, developing the capabilities of the ground-based air defense systems of NATO's European countries and improving their interoperability, including with the Alliance's Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (NATINAMDS).
A key element of the initiative is Germany's air defense development program covering the procurement of all classes of air defense systems (very short, short, medium, long-range, and anti-missile and anti-UAV) in the short and medium term, the ministry said in a press release.
"Joining this initiative will enable the Lithuanian Armed Forces to plan joint acquisitions with the German Armed Forces," it quoted Anusauskas as saying.
"Of the proposed package of air defense systems, the most relevant for the Lithuanian Armed Forces is the package of very short-range/counter UAV systems," he added.
Attention to air defenses on NATO's eastern flank has intensified in light of increased threats after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The idea of jointly developing air defense capabilities in Europe was raised by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in August.