The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence (MND) has launched a long-term project designed to mechanise, strengthen and upgrade the Lithuanian Land Force.
Approximately two battalions of the mechanised infantry brigade (MIB) Iron Wolf are scheduled to be equipped with advanced wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) until 2020, under the first phase of the National Defence system development programme, which is running from 2014 to 2023.
The MND has requested that nine foreign IFV manufacturers send formal letters comprising comprehensive information on their production, by mid-October.
Meanwhile, the procurement contracts are expected to be signed in 2015.
Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said: "The procurement project of infantry fighting vehicles is one of [the] long-term phases of the modernisation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, which will doubtlessly increase Lithuania's capacity to defend and to fulfil Nato commitments.
"We are turning back to the modernisation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces that was terminated needlessly under the former government."
Lithuanian MND Capability and Armament Director General brigadier general Gintautas Zenkevicius said: "New fighting vehicles that would satisfy national and Nato requirements would make us capable of operating equally with our allies, not only from [a] operational but also from [a] technical point of view."
The Lithuanian Land Force currently operates M113 armoured personnel carriers, which are well suited for transporting soldiers out of theatre, but lack the capability to destroy armoured equipment and manpower.
The new vehicles would ensure an efficient national defence with an ability to destroy armoured material, ensuring freedom of manoeuvre and force protection, according to Zenkevicius.
Once equipped with new IFVs, the MIB Iron Wolf is expected to have an opportunity to train in military ranges in Lithuania and also participate in combat actions at home and abroad.
Image: Lithuania plans to equip MIB Iron Wolf with wheeled infantry fighting vehicles. Photo: courtesy of Lina Ambroževiciute.