Lithuania's defence budget should expand by more than a third in 2016, according to the budget draft published on Monday.
Ministry of National Defence
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Budget allocations for the Ministry of National Defence should be 574 million euros in 2016, which will account for 1.48 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Meanwhile, this year's defence budget was 425 million euros (1.15 pct of the GDP), as compared to 322 million euros (0.89 pct of the GDP) in 2014 and 267 million euros (0.77 pct of the GDP) in 2013.

"We are bridging the gap and meeting the commitment of political parties of trying to reach 2 percent of the gross domestic product," Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told BNS on Monday.

In his words, the 2 percent bar may be reached in 2018, if the current pace is maintained.

Personnel costs will account for under 50 percent of the sum, while the increase will go towards acquisition of military equipment and weaponry.

"The priority fields include training of the army's military units, modernization and development of capacities. Here I can mention anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, self-propelled howitzers, communications, precision and sniper weapons, surveillance and measuring equipment, gear of troops, air-space surveillance and expansion of the Aviation Base of the Air Force. Without doubt, our volunteer recruits will also cost us," said the minister.

"Among the higher budget lines are the NATO air-policing mission, the NATO Force Integration Unit, support to rotating Allied forces and our response forces. I would also like to mention development of the National Cyber Security Center," Olekas added.

On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry should sign a deal on purchase of the German self-propelled howitzers, Pzh2000. "More specific statements" in connection to the purchase of armored vehicles, which should become the biggest contract in the history of Lithuania's Armed Forces, are expected in mid-September, the minister said.

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