Estonia will acquire a significant quantity of loitering munitions in the near future, in order to significantly increase its indirect fire capability as a consequence of Russian aggression.
“It is impossible to overestimate the importance of indirect fire in the development of Estonia’s defence capability, as the aggressor nation Russia has caused destruction in Ukraine mostly with indirect fire strikes,” said Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur, who introduced the topic at the government cabinet meeting on Thursday.
With the procurement to be implemented in the near future, the Defence Forces will have the ability to attack the enemy with loitering munitions from a greater distance, Pevkur said.
Indirect fire is firing at a target that the gunner cannot see. Used to accomplish this are, for example, mortars, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, or loitering munitions. One of the combat objectives of indirect fire capability is to attack the enemy’s own indirect fire units.
According to Pevkur, it is one of Estonia’s largest defence procurements, but it would not be prudent to specify the exact amount due to the pending status of the procurement.
Procurement of the systems is nearing completion. A comprehensive market survey was organised last year, an agreement will be concluded in the first quarter of this year, and the lion’s share of deliveries will reach Estonia in 2024.
The indirect fire capability of the Defence Forces is provided by mortars of various calibres as part of manoeuvre units, both infantry brigades have an artillery battalion, and in 2024–2025, a multiple-launch rocket and loitering munitions unit (air assault battery) will be created.
Estonia concluded the procurement of HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems with the USA in December 2022. The artillery battalions within the infantry brigades will also be growing in the next few years when the addition of 12 K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery units will strengthen both battalions to 18 systems.
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