Upgraded airbase ready for take-off

Take note – story published 9 years and 8 months ago

Latvia's defensive capabilities took a step forward Thursday with the official opening of an improved airbase facility at Lielvarde in the center of the country.

The completion of upgrades begun in 2009 at the former Soviet airbase mean that a wider range of aircraft including helicopters will be able to use the facility and night flights will also be possible. 
 
The improved functionality has already been put to the test during major NATO exercises "Steadfast Pyramid 2014" and "Steadfast Pinnacle 2014".

The official opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis, National Armed Forces Commander Gen. Raymond Graube, and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Sir Adrian Bradshaw. 

"This year we marked 10 years since joining NATO, and the most important project that is being implemented with support from NATO is the construction of the Air Forces military base in Lielvārde," Vejonis told LSM.

"Development of the Air Force Base reaffirms that our priority is not just to establish new military bases, but to develop, improve and adapt our infrastructure to meet NATO`s standards."

At the beginning of September this airfield was used for multi-national military exercise Steadfast Javelin II where more than 450 paratroopers jumped from C-130 planes and landed in Lielvārde. 

From 2009 to 2013, the NATO-funded infrastructure improvements have included better runways, taxiing routes, platforms, sites, buildings and 22km of defensive walls. 
 
Between 2006 and 2013 around 27 million euros of NATO money has been spent, plus 55.4 million euros of national funding. 
 
According to the Defense Ministry, the long-term aim is to create a "NATO-standard airstrip, as well as a modern and multifunctional military base, which is necessary for the armed forces to be able to fully play their role in ensuring the protection and exercise of NATO operations and support measures." 

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