Latvia requests HIMARS weapon to bolster Baltic defense

Jaroslaw Adamowski

WARSAW, Poland — Latvia has sent a letter of request to buy an undisclosed number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems from the United States, with the potential acquisition to be carried out as a joint initiative of the three Baltic states, which also include neighboring Estonia and Lithuania.

“The MoD has sent a letter of request to the U.S. about the availability and prices of HIMARS,” a spokesperson for the Latvian Ministry of Defence told Defense News. “This is a joint project of the Baltic States, and the MoD expects the U.S. to support it with co-financing.”

HIMARS is a long-range, mobile rocket launcher made by the American company Lockheed Martin. With Ukraine using U.S.-supplied systems to combat Russia’s invasion of its territory, and Poland filing a letter of request last May to order about 500 M142 HIMARS launchers, Latvia aims to join a growing club of Eastern European countries who intend to use the weapon to boost their respective artillery capacities.

In addition to HIMARS, Riga aims to purchase coastal defense missile systems and is currently evaluating submitted offers. The country is also considering the purchase of midrange air defense systems.

“Regarding coastal defense systems, the MoD has received offers from potential suppliers. During market research, an analysis of these offers has been carried out, as well as additional information has been requested for further evaluation,” the spokesperson said.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Latvia’s government decided to gradually raise its defense budget to 2.5% of the country’s gross domestic product by 2025 to finance several acquisition programs. Next year, Riga aims to allocate about €747.7 million (U.S. $763.9 million) toward military expenditure, according to data from the ministry.

In June, during a meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterparts from the Baltic states, Lithuanian Defence Minister Ardyvas Anušauskas said the three European countries were planning to order the Lockheed Martin-made HIMARS this year.

“Together with the Latvian and Estonian allies we are looking into developing a HIMARS artillery rocket system capability. Lithuania plans signing a corresponding contract before the end of this year,” Anušauskas said, as quoted in a statement released by his ministry.