Lithuania hopes for NATO air defense agreement in 2018

Lithuanian defense minister Raimundas Karoblis says he hopes that the NATO countries can reach an agreement in 2018 on the principles for a comprehensive air defense concept for the Baltic region, writes Delfi.lt.

According to the Lithuanian minister the problem is political, as the technical details are mostly worked out. He therefore hopes that air defense can be included in NATO’s existing plans for a forward presence in the Baltic countries.

Air defense is considered by Lithuania as the weak link in the defense of the country. In October the country signed a €109 million deal for the Norwegian air defense system NASAMS, but Lithuania hopes that the Polish acquisition of Patriot missiles can integrate into a broader comprehensive system. Patriot has a longer range and a better capability against missiles than NASAMS, and the Polish missiles could provide protection over Lithuania if they are placed close to the border.

It is unlikely that NATO can have a permanent deployment of ground based air defense systems in the Baltic Countries, because the alliance doesn’t have enough of them. But a stronger mandate for the air policing mission in the Baltic Countries is seen by the minister as a possible step to a comprehensive air defense.

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