The Latvian Defense Ministry has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the UK regarding the cooperation on the mechanisation project of the Latvian Land Force's infantry brigade.
Under the protocol, the two countries have committed to conclude a bilateral agreement on the acquisition of second-hand and upgraded combat vehicles at the end of May 2014.
Latvia currently intends to purchase 120 combat vehicles reconnaissance (tracked) (CVR(T)) from the UK at a cost of an estimated €70m, of which €1.79m has already been allocated.
Approximately €12.27m and €16.29m are expected to be assigned in 2015 and 2016, respectively, for the mechanisation project.
The LOI was signed by Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis and UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond during the meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
Vejonis said: "This is the first step in a long-term project in national armed forces development and a significant investment in strengthening our defence capabilities.
"Due to financial austerity the mechanisation of the infantry brigade has been postponed for too long, but it is very important for the development of our army."
Hammond noted that the LOI is a logical continuation in the long-term practical cooperation that has contributed to strengthening Latvian defence capabilities.
The evaluation of different options for the mechanisation project, which will be implemented in two stages, commenced in 2012, and consisted of several stages, including working on detailed operational requirements of vehicles and market research.
Based on market research, the Latvian Defense Ministry has already started negotiations with the UK Ministry of Defence regarding procurement of their second-hand high-quality military vehicles.
Latvia is also planning to purchase armoured personnel carriers (APCs) under the LVL168.44m (€236.9m) project, which is scheduled to continue until 2020.
Image: A UK Army SULTAN armoured command vehicle in Split, Croatia. Photo: courtesy of Hohum.