Tests in Scandinavia
The Lithuanian Armed Forces have officially received the NASAMS anti-aircraft system from Kongsberg. This happened after a series of tests.
The document on the adoption of the new air defense system was signed on October 30, 2020. Lithuania has become the official operator of the air defense system, classified worldwide as a short or medium range system, depending on the specific type of missile used - AMRAAM or AMRAAM-ER.
The NASAMS-3 air defense system was acquired by Vilnius in October 2017. Now the complexes have been received officially. The system uses American AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and MPQ-64 Sentinel radar. In 2018, the Lithuanian military department ordered additional missiles.
It is worth noting that NASAMS-3 is the latest generation of NASAMS currently used exclusively by the Norwegian Armed Forces. Thus, the Lithuanian army became the second in the world after the Norwegian army to have this air defense system.
The cost of the purchased equipment for two air defense batteries, which will be part of a separate air defense battalion of the Lithuanian Air Force, will amount to about 110 million euros. This amount also includes training fees for operators and maintenance personnel.
Recall that the NASAMS short- or medium-range air defense system can hit targets within a radius of about 25 km with AMRAAM missiles and within a radius of more than 40 km with AMRAAM-ER missiles. The system is produced by Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace, the largest Norwegian defense company, in collaboration with US defense giant Raytheon. The latter is responsible for radars and missiles from the AMRAAM family.
Typically a NASAMS battery consists of three launchers. The launcher is connected to the control system and can be located up to 25 km from it. In addition to AMRAAM / AMRAAM-ER missiles, the Norwegian air defense system can also use the even lighter IRIS-T SLS and AIM-9X missiles.
As the Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis emphasized, the most important result of owning its own air defense system is the country's protected airspace. This will allow, according to the minister, to more effectively defend national interests and expand the presence of allied forces in the region.
It is difficult to disagree with Karoblis's words, given that Lithuania previously possessed only very short-range air defense systems in the form of guns and MANPADS systems, including the Polish Gromów, purchased after 2014. However, even the presence of more powerful air defense systems will not be able to turn Lithuania into an independent player in the military sphere. In a confrontation with any neighbor, be it Russia or Belarus, Lithuania will be doomed to defeat.
Interesting in this vein is the opinion of the readers of the Polish edition of Defense24. Apparently, they are very skeptical about the acquisition of their eastern neighbor.
Our patriots will overpay even after 10 years,
- writes one of the commentators, obviously hinting at a round sum that Lithuania had to pay for the batteries of the Norwegian air defense system.
It would be better for us if they chose the Camm system from the British. They offered us a complete polonization of the system, especially taking into account the much needed missile technology,
- says someone with the nickname "from Gliwice".
Another commentator laughed at the assertion of the author of the article in the Polish edition about the absence of combat aircraft in the Lithuanian Air Force. Although this is actually the case: according to open sources, the Lithuanian aviation possesses only 2 training and 5 transport aircraft and 6 multi-purpose helicopters. There are no fighters, but there will be anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM), albeit foreign ones, with dubious effectiveness.
By the way, this is also why it is so important for Lithuania to have at least some semblance of modern air defense systems. One cannot stand against Russia, but the appearance of airspace security is being created.