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Lithuania Eyes Acquisition of IRIS-T Air Defence Missile System from Germany.

Lithuania is considering acquiring the IRIS-T medium-range air defense system from Germany, according to an announcement made by Lithuanian Defence Minister Laurynas Kasčiūnas. The news was revealed on May 21, 2024, by the Lithuanian National Television website, "LRT."
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IRIS-T SLM is a German-made air defense missile system designed to counter a variety of aerial threats with a range of up to 40 kilometers and an altitude reach of 20 kilometers. (Picture source: Dhiel Defence)

This development follows a meeting held last week in Palanga between Lithuanian Defence Minister Laurynas Kasčiūnas and German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius. Kasčiūnas expressed the strategic importance of this potential purchase for Lithuania's national defense.

"I can say today a very important thing, from my point of view, that we are considering the acquisition of the IRIS-T medium-range air defense system from Germany," Kasčiūnas stated, highlighting the critical nature of enhancing Lithuania's defense capabilities.

However, Germany currently faces production constraints for the IRIS-T air defense systems, primarily due to ongoing deliveries to Ukraine. The German government is actively negotiating with its defense industry to ramp up production capacity to meet both domestic and international demand.

The IRIS-T air defense system, developed by German manufacturer Diehl, has garnered significant interest from various nations. In September of last year, Estonia and Latvia collectively signed an agreement to purchase IRIS-T systems valued at approximately 1 billion euros.

The IRIS-T SLM (Surface-Launched Medium-Range) is an advanced air defense system designed to provide comprehensive protection against a wide range of aerial threats. Developed by the German company Diehl Defence, the IRIS-T SLM is a ground-based variant of the highly successful IRIS-T air-to-air missile. The system is equipped with state-of-the-art radar and missile technology, enabling it to detect, track, and intercept targets such as aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and cruise missiles. Its robust combat capabilities make it a formidable asset in modern air defense, offering a high probability of kill against incoming threats.

The IRIS-T SLM missile boasts an impressive operational range and altitude, capable of engaging targets at distances up to 40 kilometers and altitudes reaching 20 kilometers. This extensive range and high-altitude interception capability allow it to effectively neutralize threats before they can pose a danger to critical assets and population centers. The missile's advanced seeker head, coupled with its agile maneuverability, ensures precise targeting and interception, making the IRIS-T SLM a vital component in integrated air and missile defense systems.

As Lithuania navigates its defense procurement options, the potential acquisition of the IRIS-T system underscores the country's commitment to bolstering its air defense amid evolving regional security dynamics.

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