Latvian State Border Guard currently evaluates offers for procurement of new helicopters. The country’s National Armed Forces, one the other hand, has no plans to procure new helicopters in the near future. Until then, old helicopters will be kept repaired and in battle-ready condition, according to available information.
It should be noted that Latvia currently has ten helicopters. These machines are maintained by the armed forces and the State Border Guard. The army uses helicopters not only for military activities but also rescue operations, transportation of injured people, patrolling state sea borders and putting out fires.
For the State Border Guard, aviation serves as a compensating mechanism to help combat illegal immigration, smuggling and other risks for state border security.
Latvian air forces have four Mi-17 helicopters and two Mi-2 helicopters. Defense Ministry’s press-service refused to disclose the year of manufacture of those helicopters. However, information from NAF official website states that Air Force received the first Mi-17 helicopter in December 1999. Other helicopters were received in 2001, 2004 and 2005.
Procurement for the repair work of Mi-17 helicopter (1990) was concluded at the end of 2012. The cost of repairs, according to the contract, was EUR 1,210,000.
Now Foreign Affairs Ministry says helicopters owned by the army are to undergo massive repairs because their resource is sufficient for now. Nevertheless, it is also planned to start replacing Mi-17 helicopters with newer models in the coming years.
Archive data shows that in accordance with the NAF development plan for 2012-2024 approved by the government in 2012, it was planned to commence replacement of two Mi-2 and four Mi-17 helicopters in 2015. This replacement process would continue until 2018. The cost was estimated at several dozen million euros.
The ministry also points that the procurement process for helicopters is gradual. In addition, new costs may arise as well (staff training and equipment maintenance, to be exact).
This summer, State Center for Defense Military Objects and Procurement commenced a negotiation procedure for capital repairs of Mi-17 and Mi-2. Preparations are underway for the second stage of the procurement, when financial and technical offers are set to be submitted.
It is also important to mention that the ministry does not reveal repair costs at this time.
The State Border Guard, on the other hand, has a different approach in mind. An open procurement process was launched for light-class helicopters and special equipment, as well as pilot and engineering staff training. Two offers are currently considered. The procurement procedure is planned to be used to purchase at least two light-class helicopters.
Interior Affairs Ministry was provided with EUR 2,960,000 to procure helicopters and secure training. Funding for the procurement of helicopters will reach EUR 2,890,650 in 2018 and EUR 2,867,351. (BNN/Business World Magazine)