Defence policy expert Aleksandras Matonis said that the most important event of the year was the purchase of self-propelled howitzers, PzH2000, from Germany. The purchase puts Lithuania head of its neighbour and fellow NATO country Poland in artillery systems, according to Matonis.
“Secondly, the acquisition of these weapon systems demonstrates a geopolitical situation change that is very important to us and the Baltic countries. The proposal from the German government shows its new approach to the Baltic states’ security, because 21 Howitzers, 16 of which will be used for military purposes, and others for training and for parts, were bought for nearly 2.5 times less than what Croatia paid last year.”
Moreover, Lithuania also negotiated a deal for 6 BPZ2 evacuation tanks and 26 armoured command vehicles M577 V2 needed for the artillery battalion to operate successfully.
“Lithuania has never had such modern artillery in this century. If there was no interest in the Lithuanian market from German companies, then the proposal would have not appeared at all,” Matonis said.
He also linked the deal to the purchase of new infantry fighting vehicles. According to the defense expert, the purchase of infantry fighting vehicles was very important to the Lithuanian army. It has agreed the purchase, for €330 million, of 88 Boxer infantry fighting vehicles which will be designated for two rapid response battalions.
The Lithuanian army has recently agreed to buy Javelin anti-tank missiles and systems from the United States: “Only last week, the US government has taken a decision to export weapons to Lithuania. JAVELIN is one of the most advanced anti-tank systems. This is a very expensive weapon which was bought by Lithuania for the first time almost 12 years ago. It is planned to buy 76 more of these launchers and 200 missiles. This is an extremely large quantity and is essentially sufficient to destroy five tank battalions.”
Matonis said that Lithuania already had quite an effective short-range air defense shield equipped with Stinger systems, but also recently modernized its equipment with the Swedish missile defence system, the Bofors RBS 70 – laser guided missiles that are effective to a distance of 5 kilometres.