Latvia and Estonia Take a Step Closer to the Historically Largest Investment in Their Air Defence with the Signing of an Umbrella Agreement

09/14/2023 - 03:30
International cooperation
Information prepared by
Media Relations Section

On Monday, September 11, in the city of Rötenbach, Germany, Latvian Defence Minister Inara Murniece and Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur signed the umbrella agreement on the purchase of the IRIS-T medium-range air defence system manufactured by the German company Diehl Defence.

"It is perfectly clear that we cannot have any illusions regarding Russia. Ukraine's experience demonstrates the importance of a modern air defence system. Until now, only short range air defence systems have been available for the Latvian National Armed Forces, but the IRIS-T system will enable effective and comprehensive defence within the medium range, and it is compatible with NATO systems, thus providing benefits not only to Latvia but to the entire region," emphasizes Inara Murniece.

This will be the largest investment in air defence in the history of Latvia and Estonia.

It has already been reported that the IRIS-T air defence system is capable of averting threats posed by enemy aircraft and drones within a radius of up to 40 kilometres and at altitudes of up to 20 kilometres. The joint procurement of one type of system will allow Latvia and Estonia to save budgetary funds and facilitate mutual coordination in the defence of the Baltic States region.

As negotiations with the supplier continue, it is planned that after the conclusion of the agreement, the procurement will be implemented within the next three years. Until then, Latvia still has a substantial amount of work to do, including personnel training, infrastructure improvement, and other tasks, to ensure that upon the delivery of these systems the National Armed Forces are fully prepared to use and maintain them.

Furthermore, the Defence Ministers of Latvia and Estonia signed a joint letter of intent with German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius regarding the future participation of both countries in the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI), which is a project aimed at creating integrated European-level air defence.

It has already been reported that Latvia's goal is to establish a multi-layered air defence system, where air defence systems of various range not only protect other ground assets but also provide mutual protection to each other. Each successive layer increases the overall resilience of the entire system against adversary activity. The development of such air defence capabilities in Latvia is one of the government's priorities.     

Prepared by: 
MoD Military Public Affairs Department
Media Relations Section Senior desk officer
Arturs Danga
Phone: 67335067