Spanish Army Ascod Pizarro armoured fighting vehicles with the BMS-Lince Command and Control system were deployed to Latvia. The system helps battlefield commanders to plan and conduct missions by enabling units to share information in real time and coordinate with their NATO allies. The Pizarro were transported by the Spanish Army to the port of Bilbao to Latvia, A Spanish commander will be the number-two official in command, and another will be in charge of training. A Spanish captain will head the sapper unit. Spain is also contributing 12 tracked armored personnel vehicles, support weapons (including mortars and Spike anti-tank guided missiles) and drones.
The Spanish army will join a tactical battlegroup made up of around 1,000 servicemen and women led by Canada, and currently with the participation of Poland, Italy, Slovenia and Albania. There are three other battlegroups stationed in Estonia (under UK leadership), Lithuania (led by the Germans) and Poland (under the United States). In total, around 4,000 troops from 16 countries are participating in NATO’s “Enhanced Forward Presence or EFP” which aims to reinforce deterrence and defense strategies on the Alliance’s eastern and southeastern borders. Following Russia’s invasion of Crimea and its War in Donbass, NATO’s member states agreed at the 2016 Warsaw summit to forward deploy four multinational battalion.
The ASCOD (Austrian Spanish Cooperation Development) armoured fighting vehicle family is the product of a cooperation agreement between Austrian Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG and Spanish General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas (both companies are now divisions of a unit of General Dynamics). The ASCOD family includes the LT 105, a light tank equipped with a 105 mm gun, a SAM launcher, an anti-tank missile launcher, mortar carrier, R&R vehicle, Command & Control vehicle, ambulance, artillery observer, and the AIFV model. In Spanish service, the vehicle is called “Pizarro”, while the Austrian version is called “Ulan”.
The ASCOD was a very modern solution to bringing both Austrian and Spanish armour up to date. To put this into perspective, the Pizarro project was a part of the greater Project CORAZA (Project Armour), which was to replace Spain’s M113 APCs, M60A3s, and M110 artillery pieces. In 2004, the Spanish Ministry of Defence ordered another 212 Pizarros (170 IFV, 5 C2V, 28 Artillery observation, 8 recovery, 1 Engineering vehicle) for €707.5 million Euros, with up to 356 units total planned. By 2010 the cost of this second batch had increased to €845m. The Ulan can carry eight dismounts, whereas the Pizarro only carries seven.