Five-year defense development plan focuses on communications, mobility

EDF personnel during the annual military Exercise Siil.
EDF personnel during the annual military Exercise Siil. Source: Ardi Hallismaa

Defense minister Jüri Luik has approved his ministry's new development plan for 2021-2024. The plan aims to significantly increase investments in the development of the situational awareness, communications capabilities and unit developments, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

Luik says that functioning units capable of rapid response to threats at short notice are the primary focus of the plan, in conjunction with allies and based on reliable early warning systems, according to the defense ministry.

"In addition to intelligence and early warning, communication capabilities at different levels will receive considerable attention, investing more than €200 million over four years," Luik said in a news release.

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) is to be equipped with modern communication and command systems and modern anti-tank systems, Luik said, within its existing structure.

The 1st Infantry Brigade is to be made up of three armored battalions and the 2nd Infantry Brigade will see enhanced mobility and rapid response capabilities.

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup is under 1st Infantry Brigade command.

"An important keyword is armament," said Luik. 

"New rifles, machine guns, anti-tank missile complexes, anti-tank weapons, and sniper rifles are due to arrive in the next four years, with mobile artillery also being deployed."

Support battalions including pioneers and military police units, as well as a new cyber command center, are also to be fully equipped, it is reported, as well as major infrastructure projects including a military and disaster medicine center in Tartu, and a new infrastructure and equipment at the naval base at Tallinn's Miinisadam coming to fruition.

Luik also said that boosting both numbers and salaries was on the table.

"People are at the heart of the development of military capabilities," Luik said. 

"We are trying to maintain a competitive and motivating salary level for active soldiers," he said, with the number of conscripts to increase to around 3,800 in 2024.

Further increases under the plan include €232 million earmarked for ammunition stockpiles, in conjunction with the defense investment program and with U.S. support.

A longer-term, ten-year development plan on national defense provision is also being planned.

The Ministry of Defense Development Plan 2021-2024 sets out military defense development goals and the resources needed to achieve them, determined on the basis of the Defense Development Plan 2017-2026, and in conjunction with EDF command advice and NATO capability goals.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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