WARSAW, Poland – Estonia is developing its defense capabilities in response to Russian actions in the region, with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), air defense systems, coastal missile defense systems as well as unmanned and cyber defense capabilities at the top of its acquisition plans, according to Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet.
“Last May, we announced that together with our neighbors Latvia and Lithuania, we would purchase the MLRS for our military,” Laanet told Defense News on the first day of the Warsaw Security Forum, an event organized by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation think tank. “My opinion is that the Baltic States should have common capabilities to fight, but also deter any aggressor, so that they take us seriously.”
In 2017, Lithuania signed an agreement with Norwegian Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to acquire the Network Centric Air Defense System (NASAMS). As part of Estonia’s national defense development plan for the years 2017-2026, the country also plans to purchase a similar short- and medium-range air defense system.
“We would like to start this project in cooperation with the United States,” the minister said.
Asked about other potential joint purchases, such as the acquisition of fighter jets to protect Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian airspace, Laanet said: “We haven’t discussed it, but I always say: never say never.
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission was launched on March 30, 2004, a day after the three countries joined the alliance. Today, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania still depend on other allies, as they do not have their own fighters who could be deployed in such missions.
Meanwhile, other ongoing projects include acquiring new unmanned capabilities for the Estonian Armed Forces and investing in cyber defense capabilities, according to Laanet who said Estonian company Milrem Robotics is developing unmanned ground vehicles. pilot (UGV) that could be provided to the country. military.
“We also have a pilot project to build unmanned vessels for the Estonian Navy. A consortium of defense companies has been formed and the first ship of this type is expected to be launched in 2026,” the minister said.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Polish correspondent for Defense News.