In the city of Rötenbach, Latvian Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece together with Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur signed the umbrella agreement on the purchase of the IRIS-T medium-range air defense system manufactured by the German company Diehl Defence.
"It is absolutely clear that we cannot have any illusions about Russia. Ukraine's experience shows the importance of a modern air defense system, which the National Armed Forces have so far only had at short range. The IRIS-T system, on the other hand, will enable effective and comprehensive protection in the medium range, and is also compatible with NATO systems, thus the benefit will be not only for Latvia, but for the entire region," said Ināra Mūrniece. She later referred to the initiative as the "Livonian shield", a reference to the historical region that included large parts of modern-day Latvia and Estonia.
A release by the Latvian Defense Ministry said "This will be the largest investment in air defense in the history of Latvia and Estonia" – though the actual expected price tag was not specified. However, Estonia's ERR News reports that the amount is believed to be around 400 million euros.
IRIS-T air defense systems are capable of preventing threats from enemy aircraft and drones within a radius of up to 40 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 20 kilometers. Joint procurement of one type of system will allow Latvia and Estonia to save budget funds, as well as facilitate mutual coordination of the defense of the Baltic States region.
As the negotiations with the supplier continue, it is planned that after the conclusion of a final and binding contract, the procurement will be completed within the next three years.
Also, the Ministers of Defense of Latvia and Estonia signed a joint letter of intent with the Minister of Defense of Germany, Boris Pistorius, regarding the future participation of both countries in the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) , which is a project with the aim of creating an integrated European-level air defense capability.
According to its manufacturer, "In combination with various radar and command systems, IRIS-T SL offers the capabilities and benefits of an advanced air defense system. An entire IRIS-T SLM system was tested successfully for the first time in 2014 in the presence of international representatives." The video below is designed to show it off.