Defense Ministry considers buying howitzers

The Defense Ministry is currently considering buying new or used self-propelled tracked howitzers that visually resemble tanks, Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers) told LETA Thursday.

Development of artillery support is one of the Armed Forces' priorities, and a total of €14m has been earmarked in the 2017 defense budget for the purpose, the minister said.

Bergmanis declined further comment on the matter. The ministry is currently holding talks with an unnamed NATO member country about buying the howitzers (sometimes called self-propelled guns), and it is unclear yet how the talks will end.

Unlike Lithuania, Latvia currently has no howitzers, but it has other artillery pieces. As reported Lithuania bought 16 self-propelled howitzers Panzerhaubitze 2000 from Germany in 2015.

If Latvia does buy self-propelled howitzers, it will significantly improve Latvia's military capacity.

Latvia received the first shipment of Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance-Tracked (CVRT) armored vehicles from Great Britain last year.

The government signed an agreement with Great Britain in 2014 on the purchase of 123 CVRT vehicles for €46.5m as part of a massive mechanization project of the Latvian army worth €249m. The vehicles will be equipped with the modern Spike mobile missile systems.

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