Giddy over air-defense system

  • 2004-11-17
  • Baltic News Service
MUMAICIAI - Troops in the air defense battalion of the Lithuanian air force said they would improve the protection of airspace above the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant by Christmas with the help of the RBS-70 air defense missile system donated by Norway.

The Norwegian armed forces officially handed over 20 launching gears, five NATO-standard Giraffe radars and 260 MK3-modification missiles to the Lithuanian armed forces at the premises of the air defense battalion, situated in Mumaiciai near the city of Siauliai on Nov. 15. The equipment received gratis by the Lithuanian armed forces has an estimated value of 135 million litas (39.1 million euros).

Air force commander Colonel Jonas Marcinkus said that a missile system unit had already been formed at the air defense battalion, and its troops had started learning to use the new equipment. The unit equipped with the RBS-70 system, launching gears and radars is expected to be deployed near the country's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant by Christmas.

Up to now the battalion has been equipped with L-70 artillery weapons donated by Sweden.

In Marcinkus' words, the airspace above Ignalina will be safeguarded by both artillery and anti-aircraft missile complexes in the future. The short-range systems RBS-70 are manufactured by the Swedish company Saab Bofors Dynamics and the Giraffe radars by the Swedish communication-technologies company Ericsson. The development of the system was started in 1960s and used by the Swedish armed forces since 1977.

The RBS-70 is a world famous defense system often compared with U.S.-made Stingers or the Russian systems Strela and Igla.