NATO aspirant Lithuania has decided to purchase anti-aircraft missile Stinger systems from the United States, a top military officials said Oct. 29.
"We have made a decision to buy Stingers for our military forces, but all the details still have to be set out," Defense Minister Linas Linkevcius said.He refused to comment on the number of Stinger systems to be bought or the cost of the contract.
"I can only say that we have chosen the system, which we needed and which opens the gates for training under NATO standards," added Linkevicius.
The minister also refused to comment on the choice made between the Stingers and French-made Mistral missiles. "The final outcome should not be considered as a defeat of some company and a victory of another," Linkevicius said.
Jonas Kronkaitis, chief of the Lithuanian army, said the contract for the Stinger purchase should be signed this year.
Last December, Lithuania signed the agreement with the United States on the purchase of Javelin medium range anti-tank missiles for $9 million. Under the contract, Javelins should reach Lithuania by 2004.
Lithuania is seen as one of the best prepared candidates for NATO membership and hopes to receive an invitation to join the alliance during its summit in November in Prague.