Tag: Patriot

Sweden’ air-defense system is due for a major upgrade

RBS-15 Mk. III – originally Sweden” “The RBS-15 (Robotsystem 15) is a long-range fire-and-forget surface-to-surface and air-to-surface, anti-ship missile.”

Sweden’s outdated air-defense system spurs fierce competition over a billion-dollar contract, signaling growing security concerns.

The new system’s main purpose will be to secure strategic bases and critical infrastructure, and act as a complement to Sweden’s fleet of the JAS Gripen aircraft. Estimates of the contract’s value vary greatly, but most reports have put the figure somewhere over a billion dollars, making it one of the Swedish military’s largest investments.

Two producers, American Raytheon and French-Italian Eurosam, are in the midst of a bidding contest over the contract. Whichever one the Swedish government picks to engage will boil down to politics – and the decision will signal the country’s preferred future in security. Strong factors indicate that Sweden will opt for strengthening ties to the United States and pick Raytheon.

Inferior standards

The post Cold War period saw substantial cuts in Sweden’s defense budget. While military expenditure was 2.6 percent of GDP in 1990, that number has been hovering around 1% over the last several years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The effects on air-defense are emblematic of this trend: Sweden currently operates only two air defense battalions, a decrease from twenty-two in 1996.

The current* system in use, Robotsystem 97, is an updated version of the U.S. HAWK system developed in the 1960s. While it has been continuously updated, the system is widely regarded as ill suited to meet contemporary challenges. In particular, it was designed at a time when aircraft still flew in and dropped missiles over a target.

Saab RBS-15 anti-ship missile system, Sweden (Robotsystem)

Whereas modern aircraft fire missiles from great distances, requiring greater flexibility in air-defense. As the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, General Micael Bydén, stated that the current system “does not meet the required standards.”

Sweden’s new defense focus

These shortcomings have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. This is largely a result of rising tensions* in the Baltic Sea region and greater Swedish awareness of Russian assertiveness in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

Increased security concerns were quoted when Sweden decided to reintroduce military conscription in 2017, and the government budget proposal*, unveiled last week, unveiled increases in defense spending on the same basis.

The ongoing Aurora 17 – the largest military exercise Sweden has undertaken in over two decades with eight participating states and some 20,000 troops – is a testament to this newfound focus on defense.

Swedish policymakers have made clear that they wish to update the air-defense system by 2020, and this tight deadline has narrowed down the options to two systems, which are already developed and widely in use.

The first is the Patriot, developed by U.S. defense giant Raytheon, and the second is French-Italian Eurosam’s SAMP/T. Both systems were employed in Aurora 17, and reports suggest that the Swedish government is very close to making a final decision on which one to choose – a process reportedly surrounded by intense lobbying from both the U.S. and European sides.

A political move

Although some reports suggest that the Swedish Armed Forces would prefer the SAMP/T, as it more likely to be cheaper and better suited for Swedish terrain, the final decision will boil down to political considerations rather than the performance of the respective systems. Above all, the decision will send a strong sign regarding Sweden’s preferred future security orientation.

Opting for the Patriot system will signal a willingness to strengthen the security cooperation with the United States. When the Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist and then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter signed a Statement of Intent to tighten defense cooperation last summer, “deepening our armament cooperation,” was one of the stated objectives. Securing a billion-dollar purchase from an American contractor will add credibility to those promises.

Swedish policymakers will, however, measure the benefits of closer security cooperation with Washington against the impacts of the contracts on the Swedish defense company Saab Group. Eurosam has made a point out of integrating SAAB’s radar system into SAMP/T, which will bring more revenues to the national champion.

Nonetheless, significant political factors seem to point towards a decision that will favor the American system and soothe U.S. policymakers. Sweden’s recent decision, together with 121 other nations, to approve a treaty to ban nuclear weapons has led to fierce criticism from NATO members.

Notably, current U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis reportedly sent a letter to his Swedish counterpart in August, warning that a Swedish decision to sign the treaty will jeopardize the security cooperation between the two nations, as well as Sweden’s participation in the NATO “Enhanced Opportunity” program.

As Sweden is seeking to reposition its security posture in an increasingly fragile geopolitical environment, policy decisions aimed at strengthening ties with Washington seem likely.

 

 

NATO Should Recognize the Russian Missile Threat to Europe [OPINION]

SS-26 Iskander-M tactical ballistic nuclear missile.

Poland has become an alliance-wide leader in NATO defense efforts and it is one of only a handful of countries meeting NATO’s 2 proc. defense spending target.

During the visit of President Donald Trump, Warsaw announced its decision to acquire Patriot missile defenses and the associated Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

The Trump Administration and its NATO allies should follow Warsaw’s lead and make a major change to NATO policy by explicitly referencing Russia as the target of allied regional missile defense architecture in Europe – as writes prof. Matthew Kroenig, an Associate Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and a Senior Fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

Last month U.S. President Donald Trump visited Poland, a country that has become an alliance-wide leader in NATO defense efforts. Poland is the new center of gravity for any East-West conflict, it is one of only a handful of countries meeting NATO’s 2% defense spending target, and, during Trump’s visit, Warsaw announced its decision to acquire U.S. Patriot missile defenses and the associated Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

The Trump Administration and its NATO allies should follow Warsaw’s lead and make a major change to NATO policy by explicitly referencing Russia as the target of allied regional missile defense architecture in Europe.

For years, the United States has been crystal clear that its strategic, homeland ballistic missile defense system is designed to deal with rogue states, like North Korea and Iran, and is not directed at Russia or China.

The purpose of NATO regional missile defenses in Europe, on the other hand, have been somewhat more ambiguous. The 2010 NATO Strategic Concept, for example, stated that NATO must be able to deter and defend “against any threat,” but the Obama administration’s “European Phased Adaptive Approach” (EPAA) to missile defense in Europe was designed to deal with threats coming from Iran.

Similarly,  the 2012 NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review states that “NATO missile defense is not oriented at Russia.” As Brad Roberts, Obama’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense policy, put it, “The Obama administration, like the Bush administration that preceded it, envisioned no role for missile defense in Europe against Russian missiles.”

PAC-3 MSE Missile Launch. Photo: US Army

But the threat environment has changed. In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and, since that time, Moscow has repeatedly made explicit threats against NATO and the rest of Europe.

Russian strategists plan for “de-escalatory” “pre-nuclear” and nuclear strikes against NATO targets in the early stages of any conflict. Moreover, Russia has a wide array of conventional and nuclear-capable cruise and ballistic missiles to carry out these threats.

It is violating its commitments under the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by testing and deploying a new ground-launched cruise missile and it has conspicuously deployed its Iskander missile in Kaliningrad, on the borders of NATO.

This growing Russian missile capability poses a real threat. It enables Moscow to coerce NATO members in peacetime and in crises and it could also have a devastating wartime effect.

NATO maintains only a token trip-wire presence in the Baltics, so in the event of Russian aggression, the United States and NATO would need to project forces forward from Western bases. But these reinforcements would be highly vulnerable to Russian “de-escalatory” strikes, which might not only shock NATO into suing for peace, but could physically prevent NATO from providing an adequate defense of its members.

500km range of SS-26 Iskander M missile system, Kalinigrad Oblast

To counter this threat, NATO needs a regional missile defense architecture designed to defend against Russian missiles. A broad area defense of all of European territory would be costly and is unnecessary, but point defenses of critical military assets are badly needed.

The United States and allies in Europe should develop missile defenses to protect critical bases, forward-deployed forces, air and seaports of debarkation (APODS and SPODS), as well as key command and control nodes.

Such missile defenses would greatly improve NATO security. With the possibility of a limited strike on military targets removed, Russia would be forced to threaten the direct targeting of population centers or an attempt to overwhelm defenses with larger-scale barrages. Both are riskier, and, therefore, less credible, propositions.

Unfortunately, NATO’s current missile defense posture is not currently geared toward this challenge as the Obama administration repeatedly explained.

Fortunately, however, the outlines of what could become a future NATO regional missile defense posture are beginning to form. Poland’s purchase of Patriot and IBCS is an important step forward. The latter system will allow the tying together of radars and interceptors of multiple current and future air and missile defense installations to create a more effective overall system.

These programs should continue, but they are only the beginning. Broadly, the United States can provide higher-end defenses with European allies purchasing systems for point defenses in their countries.

Wealthier NATO countries, such as Germany, should consider deploying existing assets to vulnerable allies, such as the Baltics. Such an approach also demonstrates a concrete manifestation of the alliance burden sharing demanded by the Trump administration.

German MIM-104 Patriot SAM Launcher.

A regional missile defense architecture in Europe will greatly contribute to Western security, but getting it right depends on accurately identifying the source of the threat. NATO must stop tiptoeing around this obvious truth and explicitly recognize Russia as the primary missile threat to Europe.

Matthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, a Senior Fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, and a former strategist in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Baltic Post.

U.S. Senator Johnson visits Warsaw for Polish-American talks

Wiceminister Tomasz Szatkowski Kongres USA Photo By Robert Suchy

On Tuesday, August 29th, the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of National Defence Tomasz Szatkowski hosted the US delegation headed by Robert Johnson, Senator of the Republican Party. Senator Johnson is, among others, the Chairman of the National Security Committee and a member of the Budget and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Undersecretary Szatkowski thanked United States for its commitment to strengthening European security. He appreciated the enhanced US military presence on NATO’s eastern flank, including territory of Poland. He also expressed the expectation that this commitment will have a long-term nature and at the same time he stressed the actions taken and planned by Polish side aimed to ensure the best conditions for the Allies stationing in Poland.

The interlocutors also discussed other areas of bilateral cooperation between Poland and the US, including planned acquisition of the PATRIOT missile system by the Polish Armed Forces. They discussed also issues related to European security, including the Russian-Belarusian exercise ZAPAD’17.

Senator Johnson expressed his appreciation for Poland’s high spending on defense and the ambitious program of the Polish Armed Forces modernization. He also appreciated Poland’s involvement in the international security area, participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan and in the coalition against the so-called “Islamic state”.

Senator Johnson, during his visit to Europe, will also visit Greece, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo.

 

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

Pence and Estonian PM discuss deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system

The vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, and the Estonian prime minister, Jüri Ratas, discussed the possibility of deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system in Estonia.

Ratas, having met Pence, who was visiting the tiny Nordic NATO member from 30-31 July, told the main news programme of the Estonian public broadcasting that he discussed the deployment of the Patriot anti-missile system, but there were no talks about a potential date when the system would be deployed.

“We discussed it today,” Ratas said, replying to a reporter’s question about the defence system. “We didn’t discuss specifically when it would happen,” he added.

“The main messages from both sides were that both Estonia and the United States are active allies in NATO,” Ratas told the public broadcasting.

“We also discussed the [Russian] military exercise to take place at the Estonian border – Zapad – and how Estonia, the United States and NATO monitor it and exchange information,” Ratas added.

Increased cooperation in cyber security

The two leaders also discussed opportunities for increased cooperation in the digital field and cyber security. Pence praised Estonia as a model for innovation and the use of technology to develop solutions for global economic, security and social challenges, and he thanked the country for hosting the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.

After meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Tallinn on 31 July, the US vice president again offered reassurances.

“Under President Donald Trump, the United States stands firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defence – an attack on one of us is an attack on us all,” Pence told reporters.

In Tallinn, he also met allied troops from France, the UK and the US that are stationed in Estonia.

 

US vice president Pence wants Patriot missiles in Estonia to deter Russia

The Patriot Missile and Air Defense System

The US is considering deploying Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Estonia, US Vice President Mike Pence told Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas on Sunday.

The U.S. Patriot defense system is a mobile, ground-based system designed to intercept missiles and warplanes.
Estonian Prime Minister Ratas said the two leaders talked about the upcoming Russian military manoeuvres planned for near the Estonian border, “and how Estonia, the United States, and NATO should monitor them and exchange information.”

Pence, on the first stop of a trip that will also take him to Georgia and Montenegro, said in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, that Washington stands with the Baltic nations and other allies in Eastern Europe that have expressed concerns about Russia’s intentions in their respective regions.

“Our message to the Baltic states — my message when we visit Georgia and Montenegro — will be the same: To our allies here in Eastern Europe, we are with you, we stand with you on behalf of freedoms,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News.

Ratas said in a statement that the US was vital to the security of the region.

“NATO’s collective position of deterrence and defense has strengthened in the Baltic region and the USA is indispensable to ensuring the security of our immediate neighborhood, as well as all of Europe,” Ratas said.

Estonian troops conducting an exercise on NATOs Eastern Flank.

Lithuania said it was eager to have Patriot missiles when the US military displayed the system in the country earlier this month after using them in an exercise there. Anti-aircraft defense is seen as one of NATO’s weaknesses in the Baltic states.

From Estonia, Pence is scheduled to make stops in Georgia and the newest NATO member, Montenegro.
Estonia and Montenegro are members of NATO, while Georgia has expressed hopes of joining the Western alliance.

Asked about Trump’s commitment to NATO’s mutual-defense provision, Pence told reporters in Tallinn that the U.S. administration has “made it clear that the policy of our administration is to stand firmly with our NATO allies and to stand firmly behind our Article 5 commitment that an attack on one is an attack on all.”

In Georgia, officials said Pence will highlight U.S. support for the Caucasus nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on July 27 that Pence’s visit will demonstrate that the United States continues to support Georgia in building a stronger military force.

During Pence’s visit, some 800 Georgian and 1,600 U.S. troops are taking part in the previously planned Noble Partner 2017 exercises. Pence is scheduled to meet with U.S. troops.

Troops from Britain, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Armenia are also taking part.

“The vice president’s presence here is definitely showing that this is not only about military exercises, but it is also showing unification with our values, with our foreign policy targets, and showing a clear message that we are together,” Margvelashvili said.On the last stop, Pence will welcome NATO’s newest member with his stop in Montenegro, whose accession to the alliance in June has infuriated Russia.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas.

On August 2, he will attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, U.S. officials said.

Pence was expected to highlight the U.S. commitment to the Western Balkans and stress the need for good governance, political reforms, and rule of law in the region.

The leaders of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia are also scheduled to attend the summit.

Source: NEWEUROPE.

Baltic leaders call for permanent surface-to-air missile deployment

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite on 20 July backed calls for the permanent deployment of the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air, air defence, and anti-missile systems to the Baltic states, local media have reported.

“The speed of response to an airborne threat may be crucial. Therefore, it would be appropriate to have such weapons in the Baltic region,” Grybauskaite explained.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskait.

The calls follow Poland’s signature of a memorandum on 6 July to buy the Patriot missile system from the US. The Baltic states currently only possess short-range air defence systems.

Grybauskaite emphasised that the move would ensure greater security for all nations in the area.

Source: IHS Janes.

After Russia Military Threat, Sweden and U.S. Hold Massive Missile Drills

The Kustrobotbatteri 90 launcher is capable of firing Saab Robotsystem 15 (RBS-15) anti-ship missiles from the shore.

Sweden, one of Europe’s last remaining neutral militaries, will host U.S. missile systems and a handful of troops from NATO allies in a marquee exercise this autumn.

Aurora 2017 will be Sweden’s attempt to test its own defenses against what it describes as a “larger, sophisticated opponent.” Over 19,000 Swedish troops will take part across the country, joined by forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Norway and the U.S. All but Finland, also nonaligned, are members of NATO.

“They haven’t done something like this in 25, 30 years,” U.S. Army in Europe’s Ben Hodges told Pentagon newspaper Stars and Stripes on Thursday. He confirmed the U.S. will deploy a Patriot missile battery, helicopters and a National Guard tank company to the Scandinavian country for Aurora 2017.

U.S. Patriot Missile Battery.

Concerned by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military reinforcement, Poland has already agreed to purchase the Patriot system, while Lithuania has called on the U.S. to deploy a battery on its turf.

“Deterrence lies at the core of a strong defense, one that rises to all threats and overcomes all challenges,” the Swedish armed forces’ description of the September drill reads. “It is designed to deter potential attackers, and force them to carefully consider the risks of attacking our country.”

Running in parallel is a major Russian drill on the other side of the Baltic Sea, which nearby Lithuania has already condemned as a “simulating an attack” on NATO. Concern of a clash with Russia has run high in Europe’s northeast, where neutral states or U.S. allies share the most considerable borders with Russia.

Aurora will take place across Sweden, including the solitary island of Gotland, which was demilitarized after the Soviet Union’s collapse and which Sweden has more recently rearmed in a symbolic indicator of Stockholm’s concerns over current Russian foreign policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already warned Stockholm that Russia will have to respond in some way should Sweden opt to join NATO.

Source: Newsweek.

Romania says any Patriot missile system buy meant to boost defence

 

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Romanian military purchases are not intended to put strain on relations with nearby Russia but to strengthen the country’s defences, President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department said it has approved the possible sale of seven Patriot missile defence systems worth $3.9 billion to Romania.

A NATO member since 2004 and European Union member since 2007, Romania has committed to boost its defence spending to two percent of gross domestic product this year.

Asked whether talk of acquiring Patriot missiles and recent military drills were straining relations with Russia, Iohannis told reporters: “Firstly, we must look at what these acquisitions are for.”

“We are not getting ready to attack anyone. We are preparing … for our army to benefit from modern, efficient features. They are meant to defend us, to guarantee the security of Romanians.”

Asked whether recent regional military exercises could deter Russia, Iohannis said “Of course they could, and I think they do so.”

Russia, whose annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 prompted concern among NATO’s eastern members such as Poland and the Baltic states, has said NATO was threatening stability in Eastern Europe by building up its military presence there and staging war games.

A final decision by Romania to buy the missile defences systems, whose prime contractors would be Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, has yet to be announced by the country’s defence ministry.

Source: Reuters.

Air defense exercise kicks off in Lithuania

VILNIUS – The Tobruq Legacy 2017 air defense exercise gets underway in the district of Siauliai, in northern Lithuania, on Tuesday.

The drills involve around 500 troops and some 30 air defense systems from Lithuania and another four NATO member states.

The US has deployed Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles in Lithuania to take part in the war games.

The US-organized Tobruq Legacy 2017 drills will also take place in the Czech Republic and Romania. The Lithuanian Air Force participates in the annual exercise for the third time.

Original article: The Baltic Times.

U.S. demonstrates steadfast commitment to Lithuania’s security by deploying Patriot Missile System

On July 10 the United States of America is for the first deploying Patriot long-range missile system in Lithuania. The deployment demonstrates the steadfast U.S. commitment to the security of Lithuania and its high readiness to send strategic capabilities to the region.

The Patriot will be operating in one pool with Lithuanian and other NATO allies’ air defence systems during Exercise Tobruq Legacy 2017, multinational ground based air defence units exercise for the first time held in Lithuania.

The exercise will train interoperability among NATO ground based air defence units and refine airspace command and control procedures. The exercise aims at enhancing regional and international integration of joint units thus training and strengthening preparedness for a potential NATO collective defence scenario.

Exercise Tobruq Legacy 2017 begins in July 11 to run until July 22 in Šiauliai district. The event will involve roughly 500 soldiers and 30 air defence systems of Lithuania and four more NATO allies – the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Latvia, and Poland.

Tobruq Legacy 2017 will be conducted concurrently in Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Romania under the command of Romania-based Joint Force Air Component Command (NATO JFAC) that will include members of the Lithuanian Air Force. Lithuanian units will also train night air defence operations control at the portion of the exercise in the Czech Republic.

National Exercise Vigilant Falcon 2017 in Lithuania will be an integral part of Tobruq Legacy 2017. The exercise will enhance interoperability and command and control procedures among units of the Lithuanian Air Force.

The host of Exercise Tobruq Legacy 2017 is the United States of America. This is the third time the Lithuanian Air Force is among the participants. In 2015 soldiers of the Lithuanian Air Force were for the first time training NATO air defence operations in a platoon-sized unit in the Czech Republic, in a battery-sized unit in Slovakia – in 2016, and this year representatives of the Lithuanian Air Force will practice joint actions with NATO allies and providing command to a ground based Air Defence Battalion-level unit.

Original article: Ministry of National Defence, Republic of Lithuania.