Lithuania has received its first shipment of tactical radio equipment supplied by the United States under the European Reassurance Initiative, the country’s defense ministry announced Wednesday.

On March 23 the first batch of upgraded communications equipment Lithuania had procured as part of the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) and other foreign assistance funds was delivered to Karmėlava Airport. Lithuania stands to receive $33 million through the ERI in 2016.

Radio equipment funded by the U.S. European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) arrives at Lithuania's Karmėlava Airport. Credit: Alfredas Pliadis (Lithuanian MoD)
Radio equipment funded by the U.S. European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) arrives at Lithuania’s Karmėlava Airport. Credit: Alfredas Pliadis (Lithuanian MoD)

The equipment will be delivered to Lithuania in several stages. The first shipment includes various modifications of the Harris [HRS] Falcon III new generation tactical communications equipment. The delivery will be distributed across different units of the Lithuanian armed forces and tested at Exercise Iron Wolf scheduled to take place this spring.

“The equipment delivered by the USA once again proves its solidarity and firm commitment to collective defense,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said in a prepared statement. New tactical communications equipment will help Lithuanian military secure interoperability with its allies while delivering on common tasks.”

Equipment deliveries to Lithuania are part of a strategic investment in Europe by the U.S. military aimed at bolstering NATO allies’ defensive capabilities and as a show of strength against Russia. Funding for ERI ballooned in the U.S. Defense Department’s fiscal 2017 budget request to $2.8 billion, more than five time the $500 million spent in the current fiscal year.

Other ERI initiatives include permanently stationing pre-positioned combat vehicles and equipment on the continent and establishing a constant, brigade-strength U.S. military presence in Europe. 

The next batch of the equipment is scheduled for delivery by the end of the year. It will include tactical communications, satellite communications, battlefield management systems and surveillance equipment.

“Lithuania’s decision to strengthen their land force and ground to air communications is an example of delivering on their national responsibility for self-defense, embedded in Article Three of the NATO Treaty,” said Douglas Lute, U.S. permanent representative to NATO. “The use of ERI funds to help secure the radio equipment demonstrates the continued commitment of the United States to helping strengthen our Allies’ ability to address new and emerging threats along NATO’s borders.”