Air defence of the Baltic States is in bad condition

The air defence of the Baltic States is too weak to protect NATO reinforcements coming to aid, according to a report by an Estonian defence think tank.

The Estonian study recommends the Baltic States to acquire medium-range anti-aircraft systems and an adequate supply of missiles, as well as better command and communications networks.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are small, and so are their armed forces. The few NATO troops and aircraft stationed there are mere speed bumps, in case of the enemy invasion, succor for the Baltics would have to come from NATO reinforcements.

The Baltic States have a miscellany of European and American surface-to-air missiles and air defence radars, including Swedish RBS-70 and U.S. Stinger short-range anti-aircraft missiles. Lithuania is buying Norwegian medium-range NASAMS missiles, while Estonia still fields old Soviet-era ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns. The Baltic States do belong to the NATO-wide NATINAMDS air defence command network and they have set up their own Baltic Air Surveillance Network.

Due to the fact that the Baltic States don’t have much in the way of air forces, and no jet fighters, NATO provides the Baltic Air Policing initiative, which bases fighters on in Šiauliai (Lithuania) and Ämari airbases (Estonia).

Nonetheless, that’s a pretty thin shield against Russian airpower.

“The air defence capabilities of the three Baltic States are acutely lacking,” the study concludes with remarkable understatement.

In particular, researchers pointed to lack of medium- and long-range anti-aircraft missiles, insufficient stockpiles of missiles, lack of integration of missiles with battle command systems, gaps in low-level radar coverage, and interoperability issues between BALTNET and NATO systems. Interestingly, the study notes a lack of connectivity between the Baltic States and Swedish and Finnish air operations centers, indicating the importance of neutral—but increasingly NATO-leading — Sweden and Finland to any protect of the Baltic nations against invasion.

But the more controversial recommendations involve NATO. The study recommends that the alliance should beef up its command networks to the point that the Baltic Air Policing mission should become an actual air defence mission.

It gives the opportunity to deploy modern NATO bombers and fighters to the Baltic States on permanent basis. As a result, NATO pushes the Baltic States to increase their defence expenditures to create the necessary conditions for the deployment of additional air forces in Lithuania and Estonia.



  1. Stephanie Stephanie Tuesday, July 27, 2021

    “Think tanks” are known to be funded by those organizations and companies who benefit from their “analysis” and recommendations.
    Who benefits from Baltic nations’ purchases of additional weaponry? MMMmmmm….
    Another question-against whom are they preparing to fight? Russia, of course, you say. Yes, the country, which has not invaded another country while the US, and the Balts participated as part of NATO, in how many that did not meet Article 5 requirements- eg. Iraq, Libya!! Reminder-Crimea voted in a referendum for the 3rd time to be reunited with Russia when that was finally accepted after Ukrainian aggression. Yes, the Ukraine, where the US openly admitted that they financed to overthrow the democratically elected, OSCE confirmed, president. Syria? Russia was asked to help by the legal government of Syria after the US financed Islamic State terrorist’s attacks and attempted overthrow. How many governments has the US overthrown,or attempted to overthrow,( maybe we should call it “regime change”, sounds more benign) in the years after WWII?
    But, keep the fantasy going that Russia is a threat and keep those dollars coming into the US Military Industrial Complex, and keep the rule of the US over most of the world.
    Do almost a 1000 bases/installations (exact number not known since some are secret) in over 180 countries mean anything? How many bases does Russia have not on its own soil?
    But then, maybe it is better to placate the US, buy arms from them, join their org., give them land to build their bases, pretend they’re protecting you and not their hegemony ,an your country won’t experience “regime change”!!

  2. Peter Williams Peter Williams Wednesday, July 28, 2021

    Who would want the three Baltic Statelets? Even their own citizens migrate elsewhere. Russia already has enough territory, and has built ports and terminals to avoid using those of the Baltic Statelets. These Statelets have growled like little Chihuahuas towards Russia, and are now getting their comeuppance.

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