UPDATED: Latvia locates radar as Saber Strike concludes

The US mission to NATO on Monday published a blog post rounding-up recent efforts by the Baltic states to improve their defenses - and particularly their air defenses which until now have been a weakness.

The post comes off the back of a ceremony June 17 in which Latvia took delivery of a new Sentinel air defense radar system from US contractors.

"[The] Baltic States are acquiring capabilities that, individually and together, harden their national defenses and enhance their ability to tap Alliance capabilities should the need arise," the US Mission to NATO writes.

"On June 17, the U.S. transferred to Latvian control the Sentinel Air Defense Radars. This sophisticated radar system can detect, track, identify, classify and report airborne threats. The $33 million ground-based air defense capability was funded with U.S. European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) funds."

The blog also flagged up the acquisition by Estonia and Lithuania (but not Latvia) of Javelin missiles which "can defeat any tank in the world."

Meanwhile June 21 sees the conclusion of the large-scale 'Saber Strike 2016' NATO military exercises that have seen 2,200 allied personnel from the US, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Norway and Poland training in Latvia in Baltic battlefield conditions.

In a set-piece conclusion to the exercises, US A-10 aircraft from the Michigan National Guard took off from Lielvarde airbase in Latvia performed a landing on the Jägala-Käravete highway in northern Estonia - a skill that has not been practiced since the height of the Cold War in 1984.

ERR News has video footage of the exercise HERE.

At a closing ceremony in Estonia to mark the end of Saber Strike 2016, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said Russia's aggression against Ukraine made the exercises more valuable than ever.

"With its annexation of Crimea and its ongoing aggression in Eastern Ukraine, Russia has chosen a path of undermining decades of work in creating Europe whole, free and at peace," Roivas said.

"It’s crucial for all of us to understand: the question here is not just the future of Ukraine but it is also whether Europe’s and Trans-Atlantic security architecture is based on international law, agreed norms and principles, where the sovereignty of each and every nation is respected. Or that kind of value-based system has no chance."

 

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