Armor for Latvia: CVRs, Transferred
September 29/15: Latvia will receive air defense radar systems through a $22.7 million contract awarded to ThalesRaytheonSystems. The Foreign Military Sales contract will see the company deliver its AN/MPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel X-band, 3D radar systems, likely insurance against Russian attack helicopters recently based just across the border in Pskov . The country is also considering the procurement of man-portable Stinger MANPADS .
If the Baltic States are serious about retaining their post-Soviet independence, they need to field more than just light infantry formations. Light formations with air defense and anti-tank missiles are certainly a very useful first step, but all of these states have significant Russian minorities, and the kind of hybrid war on display in Ukraine demands armored urban firepower and artillery.
Latvia has 3 ex-Polish T-55 tanks for training, but that isn’t going to cut it. A recent purchase of used tracked vehicles from Britain will finally get them into the game….
Estonia’s Maavagi currently leads the Baltic states, with the most integrated air defense system, 122mm and 155mm howitzer batteries, Sisu wheeled APCs from Finland, and a July 2014 commitment to buy CV90-35 high-end infantry fighting vehicles from the Netherlands. Lithuania has a large contingent of M113 tracked APCs, which aren’t terrifically useful against enemy vehicles, but are good for moving infantry quickly and delivering them in the teeth of artillery and small arms fire.
Latvia’s GBP 39.4 million (about EUR 49.8 million / $67.5 million) order will refurbish and deliver 123 British Combat Reconnaissance Reconnaissance (Tracked) light armored vehicles, which Britain had retired in the wake of its 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. CVR(T) is actually a wide set of small and fast vehicles, whose aluminum armor gives them an extremely light base weight of around 8t. Reports aren’t entirely clear regarding which variants are being transferred, but confirmed inclusions by the UK MoD:
- FV103 Spartan – The basic APC, carrying 3 crew and 4 soldiers.
- FV104 Samaritan – Armored ambulance, capacity for 6 litters maximum.
- FV105 Sultan – Commander and Control vehicle, with a raised roof.
- FV106 Samson – Armored Recovery Vehicle, to winch and tow stuck or damaged vehicles out of trouble.
The FV102 Striker’s use of Swingfire anti-tank missiles makes it a non-option. Other possibilities beyond this initial set include:
- FV101 Scorpion – Cavalry vehicle with a low-velocity 76mm main gun turret and coaxial 7.62mm GPMG; all withdrawn from British service in 1995.
- FV107 Scimitar – Cavalry vehicle with a 30mm cannon turret and coaxial 7.62mm GPMG.
Protection levels will be low beyond small arms and artillery fragments, though slat/cage armor was fitted to CVR(T)s in Afghanistan as a protective measure against single-warhead shoulder-fired rockets. Once inducted, CVR(T) vehicles could be used in rapid maneuvers, and the Scorpion and Scimitar are serious threats to enemy armored personnel carriers. These armored vehicles can also take advantage of their small size and light weight, easily inserting themselves into urbanized areas.
September 29/15: Latvia will receive air defense radar systems through a $22.7 million contract awarded to ThalesRaytheonSystems. The Foreign Military Sales contract will see the company deliver its AN/MPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel X-band, 3D radar systems, likely insurance against Russian attack helicopters recently based just across the border in Pskov. The country is also considering the procurement of man-portable Stinger MANPADS.
- UK MoD (Sept 4/14) – Latvian army purchases UK armoured combat vehicles.
- Lithuanian MoD (Sept 4/14) – Aizsardzibas ministrs parakstijis ligumu par brunotu kapurkezu tehnikas iegadi no Lielbritanijas.
- British Army – Spartan & CVR(T) vehicles.
- British Army – Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle.