In response to the need to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Baltic region after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Spanish-supplied ground-to-air NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) anti-aircraft missile battery has deployed at the Latvian National Air Force in Lielvarde. Along with the anti-aircraft missile battery, 85 soldiers of the Spanish Armed Forces have also arrived in Latvia, joining about 500 Spanish soldiers already in the Baltics.
“Together with NATO allies in Latvia, we are starting to form an international force brigade. Even before the Madrid Summit, it is clear that our allies are ready to respond to today’s security challenges in the Baltic region. The deployment of modern air defense systems in Latvia, thanks to the determination of the Spanish government, is a clear confirmation that our defense and security are in the interests of the entire NATO alliance, ”Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks said.
NASAMS is a distributed and networked medium to long-range surface-to-air missile defense system developed by Kongsberg (KDA) and Raytheon. NASAMS was the first application of a surface-launched AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile). NASAMS 2 is an upgraded version of the system capable of using Link 16, which has been operational since 2007. NASAMS 3 is the latest upgrade deployed in 2019; it adds the capability to fire AIM-9, IRIS-T SLS short-range missiles, and AMRAAM-ER extended-range missiles.
A total of four NASAMS systems were acquired by the Spanish Army in 2003. The Spanish Army successfully conducted a live-fire exercise off the NASAMS with four AMRAAMs in November 2008. A tactical live-fire exercise of NASAMS was conducted by the RNoAF in June 2011. The AMRAAM-ER missile was successfully test-fired from the NASAMS system for the first time in 2016. On May 29, the Spanish Defense Ministry plans to deploy a battery of surface-to-air NASAMS in Latvia. Spain already has 350 troops in the alliance’s enhanced forward presence battlegroup in Latvia, in line with the NATO response plans “to preserve peace and security after the invasion.”