MANPADS Mix: Lithuania Adds Polish GROM Missiles
At MSPO 2014, Lithuania signed a EUR 34 million contract with Poland for PPZR GROM soldier-portable anti-aircraft missiles, along with necessary instrumentation, simulators, and training. The Polish MON says that Lithuania is their 4th export customer after “Georgia, Indonesia, and Japan.” Peru has also bought GROM, as part of the vehicle-mounted POPRAD system, and missiles seized by Russian forces in Georgia appear to have found their way to pro-Russian “customers” in eastern Ukraine.
The purchase leaves Lithuania with a variety of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles…
In 2004, Norway gave Lithuania a handful of RBS-70 Mk.1 missile systems, to equip 2 air defense companies that would “safeguard the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and other strategic objects”:
“Between October-November of this year, a dispatch including 21 short range anti-aircraft missiles RBS-70, Mk-1 missiles, 5 training simulators, as well as survey radar systems Giraffe IV, others spare parts was handed over to the Air Defence Battalion, situated in Mumaiciai, near the country’s northern city of Siauliai. The handed over equipment is brand new.”
The RBS-70 is laser-guided via a rear-facing link, which means performance is very much a function of training. In exchange, it’s near-impossible to jam. This makes it an excellent choice for locations like Ignalina.
In 2007, however, Lithuania bought Raytheon’s FIM-92 Stinger missiles, instead of adding more RBS-70s. These were also set up as a system: dual-mount tripods with 54 missiles, 2 trailer-mounted MPQ-64 Sentinel short-medium range radars, and command and control centers on HMMWVs. This combination of systems seems well suited to protecting another couple of key fixed sites, though it can also be used in a semi-mobile fashion and move from place to place.
The PPZR GROM missiles would be added to this mix, and the question is what will happen to Lithuania’s other missiles. Perhaps nothing. Both the RBS-70s and the Stingers are complete systems, which makes them well-suited for fixed locations. In contrast, a straight purchase of GROM missiles lends itself to dispersed deployment within front-line forces, or even by reservists in built-up areas.
- MESKO – Anti-aircraft missile set GROM. See also brochure [PDF].
- Geo-Army.GE – GROM (missile). Unofficial site. Mentions that the GROM’s design was SA-18 derived, “…helped by the Polish intelligence services able to buy the design plans of the original 9K38 Igla missile system in the LOMO works in Leningrad (modern St. Petersburg) during the turmoil following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”
- DID – Estonia Chooses New SHORAD Air Defense System. They chose a much more integrated single solution of MBDA Mistral MANPADS, Giraffe AMB radars, and long-range ThalesRaytheon Groundmaster 403 radars, all linked by a back-end command and control system.
- Lithuania MND (July 10/14) – Augmentation in defence spending will be used for procuring weaponry and developing defence infrastructure. Priorities: GROM portable air defense, and medium-range anti-tank missiles (likely more Javelins).