These troops will join the existing forces of around 500 Spanish troops in the Baltic States.
The Spanish Defense Ministry plans to deploy a battery of surface-to-air NASAMS [Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System], in Latvia, El Pais said.
"Our commitment to NATO is total. We have troops at the moment in Latvia and also in Lithuania, we have our ships in the Mediterranean," Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks thanked Spain and Robles on Twitter about it being the first ally to respond to Latvia's requests to beef up NATO presence in the region.
I am grateful to Spain and Minister Margarita Robles that Spain was the first ally to respond to our request and hear about our concerns about the need to bolster Latvian air defence in The face of Russian aggression in Ukraine! I hope other allies will follow!— Artis Pabriks (@Pabriks) May 28, 2022
On Sunday, Pabriks told LETA that the installation of the surface-to-air missiles will 'change the game to anyone who wants to use aviation in the territory in Latvia.'
Pabriks explained that the Norwegian “NASAMS” is a medium-distance anti-air defense system with a radius of up to 100 kilometres, which includes missiles, radars and command structures, as well as service personnel in units of 100 people.
“The indicator is smaller than the Patriot anti-air defense system, and it will not cover the entire territory of Latvia, only part of it, so we will deploy it not too far from Riga. The system is mobile and we can transfer it from one place to another, it is also significantly cheaper than the Patriot anti-air defense system because it does not have a long-range range and would cost around €100 million. At the moment, we only have close-distance protection, and we have therefore got the next level of protection,” said Pabriks.
The former commander of the Latvian Land Forces, retired Colonel Igors Rajevs told LETA that the system will allow Latvia to destroy the targets at the height and distance that the Latvian army is not able to do so at the moment, and this is a significant advantage in improving the security situation in the country.
Rajevs said there were two “NASAMS” in Lithuania, while Estonians have been talking for some time about purchasing such a system. Poland also has a similar anti-air defense system capable of destroying both planes and winged missiles, and would be used during war or some conflict if needed, Rajevs said.
Pabriks added that it is likely that the main military and allied bases could be among the target sites selected by opponents for destruction in Latvia. He hopes that the system will not be the only one deployed by allies in Latvia.
“Spain is the first country to provide us with additional anti-air security, and I hope there will be other countries following Spain's example. The problem is that in the last 20 years a lot of western countries have forgotten about their safety, so there are also no such missile kits available on the market. Even if we were trained, we would not be able to produce and order the systems so quickly,” the Minister for Defense said.