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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Latvian Radar To Track Russian Airspace

RIGA -- Latvia has started using a new military radar capable of monitoring air traffic deep into Russian airspace, a capability that Moscow earlier expressed deep concerns about, officials in the ex-Soviet Baltic republic said Tuesday.

The three-dimensional, Lockheed Martin TPS-117 is part of an existing pan-Baltic network that will be integrated into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's radar system when Latvia and neighboring Estonia and Lithuania join the alliance next year.

After the Soviet collapse, Moscow dismantled its own military installations across the Baltics -- which included Soviet-era radar. NATO said one of the conditions for Baltic membership in the organization was the construction of the modern BaltNet radar network.

With a range of about 400 kilometers, the 8 million lat ($14 million) radar can track planes near St. Petersburg, some 300 kilometers north of the Latvian border.

The new radar station in Audrini, a town near the Russian border and 190 kilometers east of the capital, Riga, was officially opened Friday, Latvian Defense Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Raimonds Graube said.