04:44 GMT17 February 2020
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    The US State Department has approved the sale of $55 million worth of Javelin missiles to Lithuania, which requested the weapons to boost its ability to combat enemy tanks and armored vehicles.

    Lithuania ordered 220 Javelin missiles, 10 Javelin fly-to-buy missiles and 74 Javelin command launch units, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Friday.

    A joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin will be the prime contractor for the project.

    The acquisition program is part of increased efforts by Lithuania to secure its borders and enhance its strike capability, as nearby Ukraine sees intense fighting between government forces and separatists.

    The move follows the latest decision by Lithuania's parliament to increase the country's defense budget for 2016 to €575.2 million ($628 million), up 35.3% from a year earlier, Defense News reported.

    The hike in military expenditures will allow the ministry "to plan further modernization of weaponry, to enhance social securities for military personnel, to boost the appeal of military service, and to ensure the commitments to NATO allies," Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said in a statement.

    The Lithuanian Defense Ministry received additional funds last year to acquire the Javelin missiles, and to buy Grom short-range portable air defense systems from Poland, as well as to hold unplanned military drills with allied countries.

    "The proposed sale directly supports US national security interests by bolstering the Lithuanian military's ability to effectively defend its border and effectively coordinate regional border security with its Baltic neighbors," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

    defense spending, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Raytheon, United States, Ukraine, Lithuania
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