An interesting struggle between the USA and Germany is on the Baltic armament market. It would seem that this is an exaggeration, but we are talking about a deal for half a billion euros, which is not so little, especially for Lithuania, whose military budget in 2015 amounted to only 425 million euros, and in 2016 will increase by almost a third, to about 575 million euros. As for the deal itself, it’s about the supply of approximately 100 German Boxer combat armored vehicles, or 84 of American Stryker. Interestingly, the decision to purchase Boxer has already been made, but at the last moment the Americans fit into the game, as the US Department of State gave permission for the deal. The armed forces of Lithuania want to get cars in a complete set with heavy weapons, which brings the products closer to the category of wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (BMP), rather than armored personnel carriers (APCs). The Boxer is offered with the 30-mm Rheinmetall MK 30-2 / ABM automatic cannon on an uninhabited tower, the Stryker is also expected to be bundled with an 30mm gun.
The very idea of acquiring such a large consignment of weapons for Lithuania caused a scandal, for example, in September, the director of the Lithuanian Defense Industry Association, former commander of the Lithuanian army, Lieutenant General Valdas Tutkus, resigned on his own will. In his opinion, the price of the German Boxer is overstated by no less than 35%, and the decision was purely political. After the appearance of information about the American Stryker, the Lithuanian media began to make trouble, now standing up to defend the "German". Reached and frankly unprofessional attacks: for example, that the Stryker is an outdated machine, while the exemplary version cited the Swiss wheeled armored vehicle Piranha (now the manufacturer purchased the American General Dynamics), which in fact was the predecessor of the Stryker.
What is better - Boxer or Stryker?
If you approach the problem objectively, then the choice is actually not easy. Boxer almost 2 times heavier (33 tons), and 8 luck paratroopers, whereas Stryker luck 9 people landing with a mass of about 18 tons. Thus, the German car is closer to the concept of the BMP, with a more powerful booking, while the American competitor is an armored personnel carrier with powerful weapons, with all the conventionality of this classification. For Lithuania, it would be more interesting to buy heavier Boxers, since there are no vehicles of this class in its armament, whereas according to various sources, the army of the Baltic state has in service from 130 to 200 units of obsolete American armored personnel carriers M113A1.
Nothing personal it's just business
Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the Americans will sell the deal at the expense of political leverage, depriving their German NATO allies of the opportunity to "earn extra money." Indeed, now the very policy of creating the myth of the “Russian threat” is beginning to bear fruit, thanks to which it was possible to achieve a noticeable increase in the military budgets of many Western countries, although before the Ukrainian crisis they all fell steadily. This policy worked especially successfully in Northern Europe, including the Baltic states. Countries are offered a “demo” in the form of small units of the US and NATO forces, such as several tanks M1A2 Abrams and BMD Bradley in Estonia. In the case of NATO fighters patrolling the airspace of the three Baltic states, the terms of the "free period" are almost drawing to a close - since September, the number of aircraft permanently based in Lithuania and Estonia has decreased by 2 times - from 16 to 8.
As for the financial losses for the German military-industrial complex when the transaction was disrupted, they will be serious - in 2014, the amount of military exports amounted to approximately 4 billion euros, that is, the sale of Boxers for 500 million euros would be about 12,5% of annual exports. In general, finding a market for arms exports for Germany is a big problem - getting permission for deliveries abroad (outside NATO and the EU) is getting harder every year: this is the policy of German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
Thus, for the Baltic market, the Germans have so far been able to "push through" only 155-mm self-propelled howitzers Pzh-2000 in the number of 21 units from the composition of the troops. But the amount here is much more modest - 16 million euros.
The acquisition of expensive weapons - an even greater loss of independence of the Balts
The tendency to increase military budgets is observed in all three Baltic republics: Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. All these countries are planning to increase spending on the “military commuter” to 2% of GDP This happens under pressure from the United States and on the basis of myths about resurgent “red commies”, and this is with all the economic problems of these countries.
Another logical question is how a country with a military budget of 575 million euros (Lithuania) can afford to conclude a deal for almost all this amount at once? After all, most of the budget is spent on the maintenance of the army, and not on purchases. Apparently, the equipment will be paid for with credit funds - which will make it possible to drive the country into even greater debts and even more efficiently manipulate it.
Arms purchase with balts will not change the balance of power in the region
With all due respect to the armed forces of the Baltic countries - an effective confrontation of Russia for them is an impossible dream, moreover, it is also meaningless: as we have already noted above, anti-Russian hysteria pursues political and economic goals, not security issues. Nevertheless, it should be noted that in the light of the purchase of new armored vehicles and self-propelled guns, the combat capability of the Lithuanian Armed Forces will be noticeably higher than that of Estonia or Latvia.
As for the US troops, "temporarily" located on the territory of these countries, their numbers are very small, and they will be quickly destroyed in a hypothetical conflict with Russia. This is acknowledged, for example, by US retired Colonel Douglas MacGregor, who presented the scenarios of the attack of the Russian Federation on the Baltic countries to the Committee on Military Affairs of the US Congress - in his opinion, the forces currently in Europe will be defeated as soon as possible.
The armed forces of the Baltic countries will be able to put up against the "red aggressor" about 23 thousand people who are not armed with any tanks (although why, Latvia has 3 long-obsolete T-55s written off as training units), in fact the missing air forces forces and air defense. Taking into account all planned purchases, the Baltic states will have an army equipped with approximately 300 armored vehicles and the same number of artillery and mortars. All this against the background of the Western Military District, which includes 40% of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, causes only a smile. But if we talk about a limited conflict - in a global or even regional conflict, the role of the Baltic states will be insignificant, they can become only a battlefield for giants, therefore, consider these scenarios in the light of the latter News not worth it.