Canada Invests $200M in New Air Defense Systems for Troops in Latvia

The Canadian government is investing more than 273 million Canadian dollars ($202.6 million) in two new air defense systems to protect its NATO troops deployed in Latvia.

Defence Minister Bill Blair said Swedish firm Saab has been contracted to supply an undisclosed number of RBS 70 NG short-range air defense systems.

The weapons are expected to enable NATO’s Canada-led Battle Group in Riga to defend against fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and class 1 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The contract is valued at 227 million Canadian dollars ($168 million).

In a separate announcement, Saab said the order covers the delivery of all necessary equipment to operate the RBS 70 NG, including firing units, missiles, transport vehicles, and training and support services.

“We are pleased to deliver our proven and efficient air defense solution RBS 70 NG, which is a critical capability for nations in the current environment,” company chief executive Micael Johansson said.

Anti-Drone System

In addition to the RBS 70 NG, Ottawa is investing 46 million Canadian dollars ($34 million) to acquire a new anti-drone system.

Blair said the still-undisclosed system will enable effective detection, identification, tracking, and defeat of small UAVs, “ensuring freedom of action for land operations.”

Canadian troops in Latvia will also receive command-and-control hardware and software, sensors, non-kinetic effectors, and in-service support and training.

The anti-drone system is expected to achieve initial operational capability within the Canadian military later this year.

Once delivered, it will be the first time since 2012 that the Canadian Armed Forces will have dedicated air defense systems to protect ground troops from attack helicopters and fast-moving jets.

“This new equipment will strengthen the defense capacity of the Battle Group as a whole, further adding to the deterrence capabilities of soldiers from all contributing nations,” the Department of National Defence explained.

Steadfast Support

According to Blair, the latest defense investments reflect Ottawa’s steadfast support for the NATO alliance amid heightened regional tensions.

He said by investing in air defense and anti-drone capabilities, Canada is also bolstering the defensive capabilities of the alliance as a whole.

“Through our leadership of the Battle Group in Latvia and our many other contributions to NATO – including our current participation in Exercise Steadfast Defender – Canada will continue to work with our allies to strengthen Euro-Atlantic security,” he stated.

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