Lithuanian Ministry of Defence informed that it has received two inter-governmental offers related to acquisition of wheeled infantry fighting vehicles. The offers were placed by Poland and by the United States. Even though the official announcement does not state so, Rosomak APC seems to be the only reasonable choice. The Americans are, most probably, offering a deeply modernized variant of the Stryker vehicle, since these carriers have been extensively used in Lithuania by the US Army, during a variety of rotational exercises. The decision related to selection of the new carrier is to be made by the end of November.
Spokesperson for the Rosomak S.A. company, Michał Rumin, confirmed the fact that negotiations are being carried out involving Lithuania, covering the issue of procurement of the Rosomak family vehicles manufactured in Poland. However, the details related to the talks still remain unknown. The information released by the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence indicates that ten offers, received directly from the manufacturers, were being considered, where two offers were related to armament, while the remaining ones described vehicles, together with the armament.
The fact that the United States of America and Poland have both submitted offers that are intergovernmental, caused the Lithuanian authorities to postpone the selection of the new vehicle. The proceedings involved Patria (with the AMV family vehicle, equipped with the UT 30 Mk 2 turret), ARDEC (with the Boxer wheeled APC, fitted with the RCT 30 / LANCE 30 turret), Iveco (offering the SuperAV vehicle, with the Israeli UT 30 Mk 2 turret).
The procedure additionally involves the Nexter company, with the VBCI vehicle armed with a 25 or 40 mm cannon, using the CTA ammunition, two General Dynamics Land Systems companies - European and Canadian ones, with the former one offering the Piranha III+/5 vehicle with the UT 30 turret, and the latter one offering the LAV 6.0 vehicle with an armament package provided by Kongsberg (most probably, a remotely controlled armament module with a 30 mm cannon and ATGM launcher). Finally, the process also involves two companies from Turkey - Otokar, offering the 8x8 Arma carrier with Turkish Mizrak-30 turret and FNSS, offering the PARS vehicle, fitted with the E30 turret. Moreover, it was announced that two turret offers have been received - Israeli Elbit Systems UT-30 Mk1/Mk2 turret, and a turret offered by Lockheed Martin, featuring a 40 mm cannon using the CTA ammunition.
The prospective wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (as they are referred to in the official announcements) are going to be acquired within the framework of the mechanized units’ modernization programme, announced last year. The initial stage of that programme assumes that vehicles for two battalions of the “Iron Wolf” brigade are going to be acquired. These vehicles would replace the obsolete M113 carriers.
The Lithuanians place a great emphasis on recovering the capabilities within the scope of neutralizing the armoured targets, thus the new infantry fighting vehicles are probably going to be equipped with some anti-tank guided missile systems. Moreover, a proper degree of battlefield maneuverability is also expected. Vilnius is not in possession of any main battle tanks at the moment, hence the emphasis placed on the anti-tank capabilities. The Rosomak offer most probably covers procurement of the vehicles that are already integrated with the anti-tank missile launchers.
Acquisition of the infantry fighting vehicles by Lithuania is related to implementation of the security reinforcement measures by the Vilnius government, in the light of the Ukrainian crisis. The Lithuanians have already decided to reintroduce compulsory military service, increase the defence spending, initiate some additional procurement programmes, including programmes the aim of which is to acquire the Javelin ATGM and the Polish Grom MANPADS systems. Lithuania has also initiated a procedure, the purpose of which is to obtain the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. Finally, Vilnius created quick reaction forces component in the Army, and increased the number of troops in the active service.
Next year’s defence budget assumes that the defence spending is going to be contained in an amount equivalent to ca. 1.46% of the GDP (EUR 574 million). Realizing the NATO objective (increasing the defence expenditure up to the level of 2% of GDP) is planned to happen until 2018. This level of dynamics related to the defence expenditure made it possible to begin modernization programmes, however “catching up” with the rest of the NATO member states is going to be a process distributed across time, and the country is still going to have its defence capabilities limited.
In July this year, Polish PM Ewa Kopacz has signed a letter of intent related to procurement of at least 30 Scipio carriers (Polish chassis, Slovakian turret) for the Slovakian Army.