Armed Forces

Latvia Reinforces Its Air Defence Capabilities. Radars Against The Russian Helicopters.

  • Planetarium Niebo Kopernika, fot. Tadeusz Rudzki/Wikipedia

US Department of Defence signed an agreement, the aim of which is to realize procurement of the Sentinel radars for Latvia. These radars are utilized in the short range air defence systems and make it possible to detect low-flying targets, including the helicopters. 

The contract, made with assistance provided from the Pentagon, the involvement of which was needed due to the procedural requirements of the Foreign Military Sales procurement process, is related to delivery of the AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel radars, along with the spare parts package, training programme and additional equipment, and all of the above elements are going to be complemented by the relevant documentation. The agreement is going to be realized until 31st October 2016. Thales Raytheon Systems company is going to be the acting contractor here.

Procurement of the Sentinel radars by the Latvian authorities is - most probably - related to the Latvia’s will to improve the national defensive capabilities, in the light of the Ukrainian crisis. Earlier on, some information had been released, according to which Latvia is also willing to acquire the Stinger MANPADS.

Last year, the Russians have located an Army Aviation Base in the Pskov area, near the Latvian border. The facility is a home for - among other aircraft - some attack helicopters. The Stinger MANPADS launchers, which are going to be acquired by Latvia, may be used to act against rotary-winged aircraft, low-flying fixed wing aircraft or UAVs.

The Sentinel radars are often used as an element of the short range and very short range air-defence systems. The Norwegian NASAMS system may be used as an example here - there, the Sentinel radar acts as the main radar. However, due to the open architecture of the NASAMS suite, other radars may also be used.

The Sentinel systems are also being used by the US Army, they are going to constitute as an element of the prospective integrated air defence system, coordinated by the IBCS command module. The said radars are used jointly with the Avenger VSHORAD system, fitted with the FIM-92 Stinger missiles - the same missiles that are going to be acquired by the Latvians.

AN/MPQ-64F1 radar features an X-band phased array. Search range is defined as “more than 75 kilometers”. The radar station is capable of operating within the scope of 360 degrees around, it is capable of detecting, inter alia, helicopters, UAV systems and the cruise missiles.