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Latvia Boosts Defense: Largest Expenditure in 30 Years with IRIS-T SLM Air Defense System Purchase

Diehl Defence and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia executed a purchase order on Thursday, November 30, to acquire the IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defence system. It represents Latvia’s most substantial defence expenditure since attaining independence three decades ago.

The procurement is by the framework agreement that Diehl Defence, Latvia, and Estonia signed in September 2023.

By endorsing the purchase order valued at approximately 600 million euros, Latvia will procure every essential equipment required to operate the IRIS-T SLM system efficiently. This acquisition will facilitate the integration of pre-existing short-range capabilities and establish a layered air defence system in Latvia.

Diehl Defence will start deliveries of its medium-range air defence systems in 2026. Until then, Latvia will train its personnel and upgrade its infrastructure so that the National Armed Forces are ready to fully operate and maintain the IRIS-T SLM systems by the time of delivery.

The acquisition of the IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defence system will aid Latvia in its attempt to develop a multi-layered air defence system. This system aims to operate in a network environment and safeguard ground assets through the mutual protection of air defence systems of different ranges. As the number of layers increases in succession, the system’s overall resilience towards adversary activities is enhanced.

The collaborative acquisition of a singular variant of the air defence system by the two Baltic states will facilitate coordination in the defence of the Baltic States region and enable Latvia and Estonia to conserve financial resources.

In addition, it enables the interchangeability and compatibility of components and systems.

IRIS-T SLM is a product within Diehl Defence that is specifically engineered to counter threats presented by hostile aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and drones operating at altitudes of up to 20 km and distances of up to 40 km. Components of an IRIS-T SLM fire unit include a radar, missile launcher, and tactical operations centre. Auxiliary components augment it, including workshops, replacement parts, and reloading vehicles. The system is distinguished by its high tactical mobility, missile launcher deployability, and ability to engage multiple targets with minimal personnel needs.

According to the company statement, the IRIS-T SLM system’s operational performance in Ukraine is remarkable. Per the customer’s account, the system maintained an exceptionally high strike rate even when facing attack waves comprising over 12 targets, the statement adds.



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