National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) medium-range air defence systems has been officially handed over to the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Representatives of the National Defence System and Kongsberg, Norwegian manufacturer of NASAMS, signed a document certifying good testing results of the system on October 30 at the Lithuanian Armed Forces Air Defence Battalion. On that moment Lithuania became a full-fledged owner of the systems that had been delivered to the Air Defence Battalion from Norway in the summer this year.
«Guarded airspace is among the most critical enablers for Allies to deploy into the region if such a necessity arises», Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says. «We have acquired a fully assembled and integrated mid-range air defence capability, something we were in need and short of so far, in NASAMS. This, to a degree, fills one of the worst gaps in national defence – airspace security».
Minister also points out the excellent synergy among the Lithuanian and the Norwegian Defence Ministries, the Lithuanian Air Force and Kongsberg that has enabled the implementation of such a critical project within the set timeline and financial limits.
«Arrival of the system enhances Lithuania’s airspace defence and further strengthens deterrence. When we link together all the components of collective defence, we get the good result that makes potential adversaries think twice on their intents and gives more security and discretion to us», Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys underscores.
NASAMS is the most widely used medium-range air defence system across NATO. Lithuania has acquired the latest, third generation system (NASAMS 3) which is still used by the manufacturer, Norway, only.
NASAMS 3 comprises command post fire distribution centres, missile canister launchers, communications equipment, etc. The procurement has been coupled with upgrading of the short-range air defence systems RBS-70 in possession of the Lithuanian Armed Forces – the two systems will be integrated into the overall Lithuanian air defence shield.
Specialized staff began training to operate the new acquisition back in late 2019, in Norway, using training methodology and programmes developed by the Norwegian Armed Forces and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Later the training was continued in Lithuania – Norwegian experts and Lithuanian military have been working on it at the Air Defence Battalion. Staff training is planned to be completed and integration of the Lithuanian NASAMS into the NATO Integrated Air Defence System begun by 2021.
The MoD Work Group analysed mid-range air defence systems available on the market to implement the NASAMS procurement project. Potential procurements were assessed according to such criteria as efficiency, compatibility with the systems used by other NATO allies, maintenance and repair costs, timetable of delivery, etc. NASAMS was selected as the closest choice to the formulated requirement and criteria.
The contract on procuring the NASAMS mid-range air defence system for the Lithuanian Air Force was signed on 26 October 2017 by the Ministry of National Defence and Norway’s Kongsberg, NASAMS manufacturer. The contract has made the cooperation between Lithuania and Norway stronger, which is very important to the security of the Baltic region allies in the current geopolitical context.