Air Defense: AMRAMM Defends The Baltic

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November 9, 2016: Lithuania is buying two NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) batteries from Norway for $55 million each. Each NASAMS battery consists of 12 launcher vehicles (each carrying six missiles), eight radar vehicles, one fire control center, and one tactical control vehicle. NASAMS uses the American AMRAMM radar guided air-to-air missiles but fired from a six missile container instead of an aircraft. This ground based AMRAAM weighs 159 kg (350 pounds), has a range of 30 kilometers (it's radar can see out 50-70 kilometers), and can hit targets as high as 21 kilometers (65,000 feet). What makes AMRAMM effective as a SAM (surface-to-air missile) is the capabilities of its guidance system (which is about two thirds of the $400,000 missile's cost). Testing also revealed that AMRAAM could be used to shoot down cruise missiles.

Norway believed that the combat proven AMRAAM used by NASAMS was a good long term choice for air defense because the United States is constantly updating the missile. Norway developed NASAMS in the early 1990s and deployed the first missiles and radars in 1995. Norway pioneered the use of AMRAAM as a surface-to-air missile and other systems have been developed using AMRAAM. But the Norwegian version is seen as the best of the lot. Norway has six NASAMS batteries for its own defense. Spain, Holland, Finland, Chile, and the United States also use NASAMS. Finland, like Lithuania are on the Baltic Sea and adjacent to Russia. So is Norway, far to the north. Norway and Lithuania are both NATO members, as are Holland and Spain. All three nations bordering Russia have been convinced that NASAMS is a cost-effective defense against Russian air power and cruise missiles.

 


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