BERLIN -- Latvia is officially on deck to receive new UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopters with the signing of a contract last month. The government-to-government deal for four Black Hawks plus accessory equipment (including the Talon Forward Looking Infrared Radar, or FLIR, systems) was cleared back in August with an estimated cost of $200 million. The new Black Hawks will allow Latvia to phase out its Russian-legacy inventory of Mi-2 and Mi-17 helicopters by 2021.
Meanwhile, Latvia is also expressing interest in adding a medium-range ground-based air-defense system (GBADS) to augment its short-range Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) and Saab RBS-70 very short-range (VSHORAD) system. The Latvian Defense Ministry has reached out to NATO with a request to conduct market research for an alternative to meet this GBADS requirement. Any procurement, however, will not be rushed as it falls under Latvia's longer-term acquisition goals.
Nonetheless, Latvia seeks to solidify its air-defense network capability due to concerns over neighboring Russia.