Chief of the Latvian Armed Forces’ General Staff stated, in his interview for LSV TV, that the army plans to acquire the US-made Stinger MANPADS. The deliveries are planned to be executed next year, however, all depends on the negotiations concerning the quantity and the price of the systems to be procured.
Acquisition of the Stinger MANPADS constitutes an element of the programme, the aim of which is to reinforce the Latvian Army in the light of the Ukrainian crisis. Back in July last year, the Latvianparliamentadopted the regulations the purpose of which is to raise the defence spending up to the level of 2% of GDP until 2020. According to the LSV, the discussed level of expenditure may be introduced earlier, as early as in 2018.
One should remember that the Latvian defence spending has been relatively low so far – back in 2014 it constituted 0.9% of the GDP. Additional funding was to be provided, among other areas, in order to acquire ATGW and MANPADS weaponry (Stinger being an example of the latter procurement initiative).
Stinger-type MANPADS are being used to shoot down aircraft (planes, helicopters, UAV’s) at short distances, flying at the altitude of up to 3 kilometres. The Latvian authorities are concerned about the potential threat posed by the Russian military rotor-craft, stationed at the base located close to Pskov. Introduction of the MANPADS into use may be thus interpreted as a response to the potential threat posed by Moscow.
It is worth to recall the fact that similar systems are being acquired by Lithuania, also in the light of the Ukrainian crisis. In this case, the Lithuanian Army decided to procure the Polish Grom MANPADS.
The US-made Stinger missiles were introduced into service in the early 1980’s. They were used in combat e.g. during the Soviet-Afghan war. The system was modified during its operational lifetime – e.g. by fitting a guidance system with the new processor that may be programmed according to the rapidly changing battlefield environment.