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Latvia, Estonia to purchase German IRIS-T air defense systems for 400 million euros

Latvia, Estonia to purchase German IRIS-T air defense systems for 400 million euros The IRIS-T air defense system (photo:

The Defense Ministers of Latvia and Estonia, Inara Murniece and Hannes Hanso, have signed an agreement to purchase medium-range air defense systems IRIS-T from the German company Diehl Defence, according to Delfi.

The respective contract was signed on September 11. This investment in air defense marks the largest in the history of Latvia and Estonia.

Latvia's armed forces previously only had short-range air defense systems. The new system is capable of intercepting enemy aerial vehicles at a range of 40 km and an altitude of 20 km. It will be integrated with NATO air defense systems.

The joint procurement of the same type of system will not only allow Latvia and Estonia to save on their budgets but also enable coordinated air defense over the region when needed.

The Defense Ministers of these Baltic states also signed a joint letter to their German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, regarding Latvia and Estonia's participation in the 'Sky Shield' initiative led by Germany. This initiative aims to create a European air and missile defense system through joint procurement of air defense and missile defense assets and missiles.

Delivery of the systems under the contract is expected within three years. Prior to this, Latvia will prepare the infrastructure and train personnel.

As specified by Polish Radio, the contract is valued at 400 million euros.

Hannes Hanso, the Minister of Defense of Estonia, stated that the barbaric war waged by Russia against Ukraine demonstrates that air defense 'is crucial for protecting the population, the armed forces, and critical infrastructure from attacks.'

Latvia and Estonia are procuring weaponry

Both countries recently requested the U.S. government for the purchase of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in the summer of 2022.

Latvia's Deputy State Secretary for Defense, Janis Garisons, stated at the time that the purchase of HIMARS was a joint decision and project of all Baltic countries.

Additionally, Latvia and Estonia jointly selected the medium-range air defense systems IRIS-T.

Demand for IRIS-T has increased following its successful deployment in Ukraine

Earlier, it was reported that the German weapon manufacturer Diehl Defense intends to significantly increase the production of its IRIS-T air defense system to meet the growing demand due to Russia's full-scale military aggression against Ukraine.

In 2025, the company plans to manufacture at least eight systems, and this year, between three to four systems.

Germany has already delivered two IRIS-T complexes to Ukraine. According to Harald Buschek, the Chief Program Director of the company, the Ukrainian Air Force successfully intercepts almost 100% of Russian missiles using these systems.