"We are set to sign a contract with Germany on the acquisition of howitzers," Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas told BNS on Monday.
Representatives for the ministry told BNS the Lithuanian army would buy 21 155mm self-propelled howitzers from the German army. Sixteen of them will be used for combat tasks, two for shooting and driving training and three will be kept for spare parts.
The Lithuanian army will also get 26 armored command post vehicles M577 V2 and six evacuation tanks BPZ. All vehicles have been used by the German armed forces.
Lithuania has allocated EUR 58.3 million until 2019 to step up its artillery capabilities. Out of this amount, EUR 16.2 million will be paid to Germany for 53 military items, and the rest of the money (EUR 42.1 million) will be used to modernize the purchased vehicles and equip them with battle control systems as well as means of communication and command. The existing infrastructure will be also adapted to the new howitzers and personnel will undergo special training, the ministry said.
The Lithuanian army is scheduled to receive the first howitzers as early as next year.
The deal was discussed during the German defence minister's visit to Lithuania in April.
Lithuania's government is also expected to make final decisions on the acquisition of infantry fighting vehicles in the upcoming weeks, which could potentially be the largest deal in the history of the Lithuanian army. German Boxer IFVs are also mentioned among the favorites as part of this deal.
Lithuania's defence budget is estimated to grow by 35 percent to EUR 574 million next year, according to the draft state budget revealed on Monday.