U.S. Marine Corps trains HIMARS live fire in Lithuania

U.S. Marine Corps trains HIMARS live fire in Lithuania

On May 9 servicemembers of the U.S. Marine Corps and Brigadier General Motiejus Pečiulionis Artillery Battalion of the Lithuanian Armed Forces were conducting the first live fire training with the HIMARS High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at targets positioned in the Baltic Sea from the Brigadier General Povilas Plechavičius Training Area in Kairiai (Klaipėda region).

The HIMARS live fire training is part of Exercise Immediate Response 2024 which involves deployment of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to Lithuania. Highlight of the exercise is deployment of strategic forces, employment of pre-positioned stocks, and interoperability with Partners and Allies.   

“Joint training with the U.S. Army, constantly forward positions are crucial in providing a credible deterrent against the slightest thought of aggression against Lithuania or NATO,” said Chief of Defence Gen Valdemaras Rupšys after observing the live fire exercise.

Overflying the Curonian Lagoon and  the Curonian Spit, ammunition fired from the HIMARS High Mobility Artillery Rocket System were dropping into the Baltic Sea at an approximate distance of 15 kilometers from the firing positions.  Danger Area was declared and controlled in the Baltic Sea by the LNS Jotvingis (N42) Vidar–class command and supply ship and patrol ships Dzūkas (P12) and Aukštaitis (P14), while the land area was in Military Police responsibility.  Over the period of the live fire training traffic in the Croatian Spit, navigation, airspace and assess of the Kairiai Training Area  were restricted.

After signing a HIMARS acquisition agreement in 2022, Lithuania began preparing to integrate it into the Lithuanian armed Forces’ structure.   The signed HIMARS acquisition contract covers procurement of 8 launchers with live and blank ammunition including different types and combat characteristic guided missile pods, including the ATACMS Army Tactical Missile Systems with the effective range of 300 km. Lithuania is buying the system together with the other Baltic states. The first HIMARS deliveries have been scheduled for 2025.

The world-wide Exercise Immediate Response 2024 is conducted by the United States European Command (USEUCOM) and the United States Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) and directed  by the Corps on May 6-14 in the northern and eastern flanks of NATO. The exercise involves nearly 13 thousand troops from 16 countries. Immediate Response 2024 is a part of NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War, Steadfast Defender 2024 which trains the total of over 90 thousand troops from the 32 Allies.

Photo credits: SSgt Spc Ieva Budzeikaitė | Lithuanian Armed Forces