- Title: U.S. deploys advanced anti-aircraft missiles in Baltics for first time
- Date: 20th July 2017
- Summary: SIAULIAI, LITHUANIA (JULY 20, 2017) (REUTERS) PART OF "PATRIOT" AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM (SOUNDBITE) (Lithuanian) LITHUANIAN MINISTER OF DEFENCE, RAIMUNDAS KAROBLIS, SAYING: "Having Patriots in Lithuania and the Baltics for an exercise for the very first time is a sign that they would be here when they are needed for real." VARIOUS OF PATRIOT AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM DEPLOYED EXERCISE IN PROGRESS "ZUR 23" AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM "RBS 70" AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM "GROM" AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2017 14:24
- Keywords: patriots anti-aircraft missiles NATO U.S. Baltics
- Location: NATO MILITARY BASE, SIAULIAI , LITHUANIA
- City: NATO MILITARY BASE, SIAULIAI , LITHUANIA
- Country: Lithuania
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0056QIVM87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The United States deployed a battery of Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles in Lithuania to be used in NATO wargames - the first time the advanced defence system has been brought to the Baltics where Russia has air superiority.
The Patriot battery was brought to the Siauliai military airbase on July 10, ahead of the Tobruk Legacy exercise, and will be withdrawn when the exercise ends on July 22, a Lithuanian defence ministry spokeswoman told Reuters.
The NATO wargames take place ahead of the large-scale Zapad 2017 exercise by Russia and Belarus which NATO officials believe could bring more than 100,000 troops to the borders of Poland and the three Baltic NATO allies - the biggest such Russian manoeuvres since 2013.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia possess only short-range anti-aircraft missiles, leaving the skies largely unprotected in the event of hostilities and have expressed concern about their air defence weakness following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
As a deterrent to Russia in the flashpoint region, the United States has deployed detachments of troops since the Crimea annexation, which have been augmented by four NATO battle groups of more than 1,000 soldiers.
Referring to the NATO exercise, Lithuania's Defence Minister Raimondas Karoblis said: "having Patriots in Lithuania and the Baltics for an exercise for the very first time is a sign that they would be here when they are needed for real."
The Patriot batteries were used in 200 combat engagements against manned and unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles, according to its maker U.S. firm Raytheon.
NATO ally Poland said last week that the United States had agreed to sell it Patriot missile defence systems. In March it said it expected to sign a deal worth up to $7.6 billion with Raytheon to buy eight Patriot systems by the end of the year.
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