|Weaponry and technology|
Weaponry and technology
While carrying out procurement, the Lithuanian Armed Forces seek to ensure that the weapons and military equipment to be acquired are reliable, modern and correspond to NATO requirements and modern defence technologies used around the world. Priority is given to developing deployable military units with modern capabilities, especially in line with the Allies in communications systems and intelligence. Lithuania allocates no less than 20 per cent of its defence budget to the procurement and modernisation of its arms and military equipment. The improvement of education and training systems and supporting scientific research designed to strengthen the Lithuanian Armed Forces are also of great importance.
It was not easy for procurement specialists to gain recognition from the Allies as equal partners, since the Lithuanian Armed Forces had to start from scratch by rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure left behind by the withdrawing Soviet army in 1993. From the very beginning, the Lithuanian Armed Forces received a great amount of weaponry and equipment from the USA, Denmark, Sweden and Germany.
The development and enhancement of the Security of Strategic Communications and Information System of National Defence is a priority at all times. Much attention is also paid to the implementation of the appropriate security measures.
Lithuanian specialists, together with the military, have worked out the Tactical Automated Command Control Information System, which is one of the most sophisticated among NATO systems. In order to strengthen advanced communication, information and intelligence capabilities, Lithuania is planning to launch a number of initiatives, including the possible creation of a unified Network Enabled Capability (NEC) system and an integrated Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) system.
The standard service assault rifle of the Lithuanian Armed Forces is the Heckler & Koch G-36 KA4, and the standard pistol is the Glock 17. The Special Operations Forces are equipped with a variety of weapons, including MP-5 submachine guns with various modifications, G36K carbines and sniper rifles. The Lithuanian Armed Forces are also equipped with machine guns, including the GPMG MG-3, the FN MAG, and the 12.7mm (.50 cal.) M-2 QCB. They also employ AT-4 and Carl Gustav anti-tank grenade launchers, H&K GMG high-velocity grenade launchers, and low-velocity AG-36 under-the-barrel grenade launchers, in addition to light and heavy mortars and Howitzer M-50s.
Lithuania continues to maintain anti-tank defence (Javelin) and mine clearance capabilities. The importance of air defence and protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other capabilities will not decrease in the future.
The short-range Stinger Air Defence Missile System has replaced the SA-7. The contract covered eight vehicle-mounted launchers and 69 RPM/Block 1 international missiles. Portable radar systems were included, as well as training and logistics support.
Other ongoing projects that deal with fleet and aircraft modernisation include the procurement of patrol vessels, mine countermeasure ships and further C-27J transport aircraft. They also include the improvement of airspace surveillance capabilities and the planned purchase of G/A Radio, Navigation and Meteo Systems.
The Iron Wolf Motorised Infantry Brigade is equipped with M-113 armoured personnel carriers and high-mobility HMMWVs. Another project which is under way covers the procurement of wheeled personnel carriers, which will replace tracked vehicles. In 2006, custom-made highmobility Land Rover Defenders, adapted for special operations, reached the Special Operations Forces. In 2007, the Lithuanian Armed Forces acquired 50 Finnish-made high-mobility 8x8 multifunctional SISU E11T combat support armoured trucks.
The renewal and modernisation of the infrastructure goes hand in hand with the changing tasks and needs of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The improvement of barracks, engineering hubs and the living and service conditions of the troops have always been a top priority. Another important ongoing infrastructure project focuses on the further development of Šiauliai Airbase, which is important for ensuring host nation support for NATO's Air-Policing Mission over the Baltic States.