WARSAW, Poland — The Lithuanian Ministry of Defence has announced plans to acquire Boxer infantry fighting vehicles, PzH2000 self-propelled howitzers, and Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems by 2021.
The programs were included in the "Lithuanian Defence System: Facts and Trends 2017" document, a strategic report released by the Defence Ministry on March 9. Under the plan, the three procurements are to enable the Lithuanian Armed Forces with "greater mobility, force protection and firepower," "efficient fire support," and a "robust and proven air defense system," respectively.
The report states that more than €2.5 billion (U.S. $2.6 billion) are to be allocated to the country's military modernization program in the years 2017 to 2022.
Lithuania and the remaining two Baltic states, Estonia and Latvia, have intensified efforts to upgrade and expand their defense capabilities since Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and the subsequent annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Moscow. This resulted with a sharp increase in the Baltic states' military spending, which had been lagging for years. The three countries have also been mulling a joint air defense system in response to concerns over Russia's activities in Eastern Europe.
In 2014, the year when Russia-backed insurgents took control of several regions in eastern Ukraine, Lithuania spent a mere €321.8 million on its armed forces which represented 0.89 percent of the country's gross domestic product. This year, Lithuania's military budget will total €723.8 million, or 1.8 percent of its GDP; and in 2018, the Defence Ministry is to spend €873 million, allowing the country's military expenditure to reach 2.07 percent of its GDP, according to figures from the report.