The Lithuanian Air Force (LAF) achieved a significant milestone by conducting its inaugural live firing of the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) III medium-range air-defense system during Exercise ‘Silver Arrow 2023.’ The Norwegian Armed Forces officially announced this accomplishment on their website on September 15th. The live firing event occurred at the Nordmela missile firing range on Andøya in Nordland, Norway, and received valuable support from Ørland airbase’s air-defense battalion. This collaboration served to validate the rigorous training and preparations undertaken by the LAF in Lithuania. Exercise ‘Silver Arrow 2023’ provided a unique opportunity for both the Norwegian air-defense battalion and the LAF to practice deploying and integrating their respective NASAMS III systems, fostering seamless cooperation between the two nations in air-defense operations.
The Norwegian Armed Forces reported a successful outcome, as the Lithuanian NASAMS system scored a direct hit on its designated target drone during the live firing exercise. Lithuania’s Air Defense Battalion acquired the NASAMS III system in 2020, significantly enhancing its air-defense capabilities. These systems, comprising four launchers mounted on Mercedes-Benz 8×8 trucks, two Raytheon MPQ-64F1 Sentinel 3D radars, and various other components on 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Unimog trucks, played a vital role in bolstering Lithuania’s security posture during the NATO leaders’ meeting in Vilnius on July 11–12. Alongside the NASAMS, German Patriot and Spanish NASAMS air-defense systems were also on standby during this crucial event. Furthermore, the Lithuanian Air Defense Battalion is poised to expand its NASAMS capabilities, as another contract for additional systems is expected to be signed by the end of 2023.
NASAMS, short for the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-air Missile System, is a distributed and networked ground-based air defense system developed through collaboration between Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) and Raytheon. It is designed to defend against a wide range of threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, cruise missiles, unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), and fixed-wing aircraft. The system’s versatility is underscored by its ability to launch various existing missiles. NASAMS has a rich history of innovation, including being the first system to employ surface-launched AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. NASAMS 2, operational since 2007, introduced the capability to use Link 16. The latest advancement, NASAMS 3, deployed in 2019, expanded the system’s capabilities to include AIM-9X Sidewinder, IRIS-T SLS, and AMRAAM-ER missile launches, while also introducing mobile air-liftable launchers. Importantly, NASAMS has demonstrated its interoperability with longer-range systems such as Patriot, enhancing its effectiveness in collaborative air-defense efforts.