The US State Department has approved the sale of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers to Lithuania for an estimated cost of $495 million.
Lithuania has requested to buy a total of eight M142 HIMARS launchers, 36 M30A2 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) alternative warheads (AW), 36 M31A2 GMLRS unitary high explosive (HE) missile pods, as well as 36 extended range GMLRS AW and 36 unitary pods. The country also plans to buy 18 M57 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) Missile Pods, and other related equipment and services.
The US State Department approved Lithuania’s purchase after the Lithuanian government approved funds for the purchase of HIMARS, as well as additional Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including Switchblade loitering munitions, this fall. The country placed the contracts for 300 additional JLTVs in October, and has begun the procedure to purchase the UAVs.
Lithuania’s defense ministry said it expects to finalize the contract for the HIMARS by the end of the year.
“It is a brand new and powerful capability that Lithuania never had an equivalent of. It will elevate intelligence, electronic warfare and other capabilities of the Lithuanian Armed Forces to a yet higher level,” defense minister Arvydas Anušauskas commented.
HIMARS is compatible with other technologies used by the Lithuanian armed forces, and its closest allies Latvia and Estonia are also eyeing the same acquisition in what would represent a substantial boost to the defense in the region.
It is worth noting that Lithuania would become the second European customer of the extended range GMLRS after Finland approved the purchase of the rockets earlier this year.
“The proposed sale will contribute to Lithuania’s military goals of updating its capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies. Lithuania intends to use these defense articles and services to modernize its armed forces and expand its capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.
HIMARS is a lightweight mobile launcher, transportable via C-130 and larger aircraft for rapid deployment, that fires GMLRS rockets, ATACMS missiles, the next-generation Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and ER GMLRS rockets. HIMARS consists of a launcher loader module and fire control system mounted on a five-ton truck chassis. A specialized armored cab provides additional protection to the three crew members that operate the system.
The system rose to prominence after the US supplied it to Ukraine, where it is helping defend against the Russian invasion. Both Ukrainian and US officials have praised the system’s accuracy and effectiveness in taking out Russian positions and assets.