BERLIN — Latvia and Estonia are to receive German-made, high-performance radars as part of the Baltic countries’ effort to upgrade their air defense capabilities under the European Sky Shield Initiative.

Defense electronics manufacturer Hensoldt will provide the additional technology, worth more than €100 million (U.S. $108 million). The company will also integrate the TRML-4D radars into the IRIS-T SLM air defense systems destined for the two customers on behalf of Diehl Defence.

Estonia and Latvia agreed to purchase the German-made weapons in September in a deal worth more than €1 billion. For Latvia, the purchase of €600 million worth of air defense systems was the largest military purchase in the country’s 30 years of independence.

The TRML-4D radar enables the detection and tracking of aerial targets within a 250-kilometer (155-mile) radius and are able to simultaneously follow about 1,500 targets, Hensoldt said in a news release.

The European Sky Shield Initiative, launched by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in 2022, seeks to strengthen the continent’s air defenses, with a particular aim of countering Russian and Iranian ballistic and cruise missiles.

The initiative now counts 21 participating countries, including neutral non-NATO members Austria and Switzerland. The aim is to maintain systems that can form a continuous barrier across the continent, from the Nordic region to Turkey.

The latest announcement brings the total number of radars Hensoldt is producing as part of the initiative alone to more than 80, the company said.

The German-made IRIS-T is the primary short- and medium-range system used under the scheme. Some participating countries have procured American-made long-range Patriot missiles and the Israeli-made Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric interceptor for longer ranges.

France, which is not part of the initiative, has criticized the approach for relying too heavily on non-European components. Italy and Spain are also not participants. However, the initiative has consistently expanded, notably when Poland dropped its ambiguous stance and announced in April it would join.

The initiative, largely a consequence of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has contributed to dramatically accelerating the pace at which European governments are spending funds on air defense. The Baltic states were among the first European nations to kick off the initiative, signing a joint declaration with 12 others in October 2022.

Linus Höller is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He covers international security and military developments across the continent. Linus holds a degree in journalism, political science and international studies, and is currently pursuing a master’s in nonproliferation and terrorism studies.

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