NATO Delivers Two New Radars to Go Live in Lithuania
(Source: NCI Agency; issued Dec 04, 2018)
Lithuania has now brought online two new radars are produced by Spain’s Indra, and they are now contributing to NATO's air surveillance capability as part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. (Indra photo)
The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) successfully handed off two new radars to the Lithuanian Air Force on 4 December 2018.
The milestone, marked by a formal ceremony in Aukštadvaris, Lithuania, was reached after years of collaboration with Lithuania to procure fixed air defence radars. The NCI Agency brought expertise from managing the same work for other NATO Nations including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
The Lithuanian radars are now contributing to NATO's air surveillance capability as part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. In return, Lithuania receives the combined NATO Air Surveillance data, allowing visibility on air traffic way beyond the nation's borders.
"Today's event – the initiation of this radar system – continues Lithuania's steadfast endeavour to secure its freedom and to never allow the atrocities of the past to be repeated. NATO stands with you in this endeavour," said NCI Agency General Manager Kevin J. Scheid at the ceremony.
"The operational launch of the two long-range radars marks a huge qualitative leap in strengthening both Lithuania's national and NATO's air surveillance capability, a part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System," Deputy Defence Minister Edvinas Kerza said on 4 December, during a visit to the Airspace Surveillance and Control post in Antaveršis.
"In this regard, this is not just a state-of-the-art radar system, but a technological declaration of independence. And how appropriate that this declaration comes on the 100th anniversary of Lithuanian Independence," said Mr Scheid.
"We have a wealth of experience, not just in the procurement domain but also in the technical domain," noted Rene Thaens, Head of the Electronic Warfare and Sensors Branch for the NCI Agency. Mr Thaens is also the project manager for the Lithuanian Air Surveillance project.
Prior Lithuanian radars dated back to the era before the nation acceded to NATO in 2004. The capabilities of these systems could not meet NATO's needs, leading Lithuania to seek a modern air surveillance capability. The nearly 40 million EUR project began with a study, conducted by the Agency, on the country's radar capabilities. Based on the study's outcome, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence requested the Agency run the procurement, which began in 2010.
Spanish company Indra provided the radar systems. The NCI Agency conducted factory acceptance tests, site acceptance tests and live flying tests, where an aircraft will fly against the radar to see if it can perform against a target.
Work to arrange secure communications was added to the scope of the project over time, Mr Thaens said. Communications must be secured between the radar and the central node digesting the data, which requires particular cryptographic equipment.
The Lithuanian government also chose to exercise an option for a third radar. The Agency expects to complete work on the third radar by around 2020.
Utilizing NATO's best practices and standards to complete the project has several benefits, including interoperability, Mr Thaens added. Nations can do such work independently, but that route can be difficult because the radars must be integrated into NATO's air surveillance system.
Nations who choose to standardize on a particular radar can also benefit from collective buying power around maintenance.
Most Advanced Military Radars in the Region Enter Service in Lithuania
(Source: Lithuanian Ministry of Defence; issued Dec 04, 2018)
Airspace Surveillance and Control Command of the Lithuanian Air Force begins conducting air surveillance tasks with two long-range 3D radars from a NATO manufacturer located in Antaveršis (Southern Lithuania) and Degučiai (Western Lithuania).
New infrastructure and radars is Lithuania’s largest contribution so far to the development of both, national and NATO collective defence capabilities.
“The operational launch of the two long-range radars marks a huge qualitative leap in strengthening both, Lithuania’s national and NATO’s air surveillance capability, a part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System,” Deputy Defence Minister Edvinas Kerza said during a visit to the Airspace Surveillance and Control post in Antaveršis on December 4.
“Today’s event – initiation of the radar system – continues Lithuania’s steadfast endeavour to secure its freedom and to never allow the atrocities of the past to be repeated. NATO stands with you in this endeavour”, NATO Communications and Information Agency General Manager Kevin J. Scheid said.
The upgrade of radar post infrastructure encompasses building new premises, installation of new communication systems and new NATO standard long-range radars, manufactured by Spanish company INDRA, which will replace outdated Soviet era radars that the Lithuanian Armed Forces operated until present.
“Cutting-edge systems installed in the radars will help ensure uninterrupted and effective airspace and border area surveillance, air policing functions, response to possible airspace violation, and warning of potential threats,” Commander of the Airspace Surveillance and Control Command Lieutenant Colonel Aras Rimkus said.
Lithuania will receive the combined NATO Air Surveillance data, allowing visibility on air traffic way beyond the nation’s borders. According to Commander, the new radars will allow Lithuania to improve operational conditions for military aviation of NATO allies, as well as for SAR operations.
The Airspace Surveillance and Control posts in Antaveršis and Degučiai are planned to become fully operationally capable as of 2019.
The project of Airspace Surveillance modernisation has been developed by the Ministry of National Defence, NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) and the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) for over a decade now.
-- Through the enhancement and strengthening of the peacetime airspace surveillance system, Lithuania Armed Forces will upgrade three Airspace Surveillance and Control Command radar posts: 1st (Antaveršis village, Prienai district), 3rd (Degučiai village, Šilutė district) and 4th (Ceikiškės village, Ignalina district). The 4th post in Ignalina where construction works began in 2017 is scheduled to reach full operational capability in 2020.
-- The project has been running since 2007, the radar acquisition procedures were conducted and contract signed between a NATO country manufacturer and the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) together with the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) on behalf of the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania. The total value of the project, incl. radar systems and infrastructure, is approximately € 60 million euro.
-- The provision of an effective airspace surveillance and control system is an essential Lithuanian national security task and North Atlantic Treaty Articles 3 and 5 obligations.