On February 27 Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis and British Secretary of State for Defense Philip Hammond signed the Letter of Intent regarding the cooperation on the mechanization project of the Latvian Land Force Infantry brigade.
Under the protocol, the two countries have committed to concluding a bilateral agreement on the purchase of used and upgraded combat vehicles at the end of May 2014. The price of the combat vehicles and other issues concerning the purchase will be specified. Latvia is currently planning to acquire 120 “Combat Vehicles Reconnaissance (Tracked)”.
The purchase of the British combat vehicles will cost an estimated 70 million euros. Part of the sum has already been allocated. 1.79 million euros have already been allocated to the mechanization project, and it is planned to assign 12.27 million euros in 2015 and 16.29 million euros in 2016.
“This is the first step in a long term project in National Armed Forces development and a significant investment in the strengthening our defence capabilities,” emphasized Raimonds Vējonis. “Due to the financial austerity the mechanization of Infantry brigade has been postponed for too long, but it is very important for the development of our army. It is a challenging task.”
Philip Hammond expressed his satisfaction about excellent bilateral relations of Latvia and the UK and noted that the Letter of Intent is a logical continuation in the long term practical cooperation which has contributed to strengthening Latvian defence capabilities.
The Letter of Intent was signed during the meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
The evaluation of different options for the mechanization project started in 2012. The process of choosing equipment was gradual and consisted of several stages, including working on detailed operational requirements of the vehicles and a market research.
At the end of 2013 Cabinet of Ministers (CM) made a decision to support the Land Force Infantry brigade development as one of the main priorities in the field of defence. The mechanization project will be divided in two stages.
Based on market research, the Ministry of Defence of Latvia has started the negotiations with Ministry of Defence of the UK about purchasing their used high quality military vehicles.
The Mechanization project will last until 2020 and the costs thereof reach LVL 168.44 million. During this project it is planned to purchase armoured personnel carriers, because at the moment there is no equipment at the disposal of the Latvian army that would ensure safe movement of soldiers in the region of international operations.