WARSAW, Poland — Lithuanian Vice Minister of National Defence Giedrimas Jeglinskas has announced that the ministry is considering the purchase of new transport helicopters with the aim to completely replace its helo fleet after 2020.
"We need new transport helicopters. It will be a big investment. However, I have to admit that we are considering various options, including [the purchase of] not only transport helicopters, but also armed ones," Jeglinskas told local news website Defence24.pl in an interview.
By 2021, other major procurements by the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence are to include the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, Boxer-made Vilkas infantry fighting vehicles and the Network Centric Air Defence System. Last year, a spokesperson for the Lithuanian ministry told Defense News that the NASAMS procurement alone is expected to be worth €100 million. In today's numbers, that's U.S. $106.1 million.
The announcement comes as Lithuania is rapidly increasing its military expenditure to finance new procurements and expand its defense capacities. This is part of a regional trend, with the remaining two Baltic states — Estonia and Latvia — also intensifying their military modernization as a response to Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine.
In 2017, Lithuania’s government aims to allocate €723.8 million to its defense budget, an increase of 21 percent compared with a year earlier. This year, the government plans to spend 1.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product on the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Next year, the defense budget is to reach 2.07 percent of the country’s GDP, according to data from the ministry.