Biggest upgrade since 1991: Estonia and Latvia want to buy IRIS-T air defense


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Biggest upgrade since 1991
Estonia and Latvia want to buy IRIS-T anti-aircraft defenses

Air defense is considered the weak point of the Baltic states. In view of the Ukraine war, Estonia and Latvia now want to acquire the German IRIS-T-SLM air defense system. A purchase agreement could be signed soon.

Estonia and Latvia want to jointly acquire the German medium-range air defense system IRIS-T-SLM. The two Baltic EU and NATO countries want to start negotiations with the manufacturer Diehl Defence, said Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur in Riga after a meeting with his Latvian counterpart Inara Murniece. If these go well, a deal could be signed in the summer.

The first systems could then be deployed in 2025. By then, the soldiers would have to be trained and the infrastructure set up, Murniece said. The ministers did not provide any further information on how many weapon systems are to be purchased and at what price. According to Murniece, it will be the largest arms deal since Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. For his part, Pevkur spoke of a volume of several hundred million euros.

Air defense is considered the weak point of the Baltic States. Estonia and Latvia border on Russia, Latvia also on its close ally Belarus. The two Baltic states regard the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine as a direct threat to their security. They have already massively increased their military spending and are upgrading their armed forces.

According to the manufacturer, the IRIS-T SLM air defense system enables protection against attacks by aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. Each unit consists of radar, command post and three truck-mounted rocket launchers. The system can fire at targets up to 20 kilometers altitude and 40 kilometers away.

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