Latvia to purchase German air defense missiles in €600 million deal

IRIS-T missile launcher of the Bundeswehr. (Wikimedia Commons)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Latvia signed a contract for the procurement of German air defense missile systems in a deal worth around €600 million, the country’s defense ministry announced on Thursday.

The agreement with German company Diehl Defence will see the delivery of its IRIS-T mid-range air defense system equipped with medium-range missiles starting in 2026.

The Latvian Ministry of Defense announced in September it had reached a joint-procurement agreement with neighboring Estonia for the purchase of an air defense system, stressing the purchase would be the largest air defense procurement in the history of the two Baltic states.

Riga and Tallinn intend to participate in the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) in the future, which aims to help “close the gaps” in the European area under NATO protection.

This is particularly true for the Baltic States, which are weak when it comes to air defense.

According to Diehl Defence, the IRIS-T is an effective weapon system against aircraft, helicopters, maneuverable drones, and short-range ballistic missiles. Each unit includes a radar station, a control center, and three truck-mounted launchers. The system is capable of intercepting targets flying at altitudes of up to 20 kilometers with a range of up to 40 kilometers.

The IRIS-T system was developed in the late 1990s by Diehl Defence together with several other European aerospace manufacturers to replace the U.S.-made AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, at the time the most popular among European NATO members.

Based on a reported unit price of €150 million, this means the two Baltic states will receive four batteries in total.

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