Estonian defense industry to receive European support ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Milrem unmanned ground vehicle.
Milrem unmanned ground vehicle. Source: ERR

A total of 16 projects involving 24 countries received European support. Estonian defense industry companies are involved in four of these projects, and will receive over €10 million in support from Europe.

The second biggest project, which involves eight countries, is being coordinated by Milrem Robotics, which is developing an unmanned ground vehicle, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

Milrem Robotics is known to the public for its self-propelled vehicle used by Estonian troops in Africa. Milrem was selected to lead an eight-country consortium that intends to develop a European unmanned ground vehicle within three years. Three other developers of self-propelled vehicles also participated in the competition; the CEO believes that Milrem won because their self-propelled vehicle was more practical.

"Our vehicles are already in use in some of these countries," Milrem Robotics CEO Kuldar Väärsi said. "There are currently seven NATO countries and a total of nine countries to which our vehicles have been sold."

The remaining Estonian companies are involved in command and control projects.

According to GT Cyber Technologies board member Martin Ruubel, command and control is essential to the organization of defense capability.

"Our role is to develop a cyber risk assessment system for this software platform," Ruubel said.

DefSecIntel Solutions CEO Jaanus Tamm said that their company is developing machine vision algorithms for satellite monitoring systems as well as anything else that can be done with artificial intelligence (AI).

"It helps people locate the objects they need at the time — a grove, land or vehicle, building or something else," Tamm explained. "And then tie it to other metadata automatically."

Cybernetica board chairman Oliver Väärtnõu said that when European armed forces go on a mission, their bases are set up. "What cyberthreats threaten these bases, and how can these bases be defended?" he asked.

Center for Defense Investment (ECDI) director Kusti Salm said that the fertilizer for the Estonian companies' success was Estonia's presidency of the Council of the EU three years ago; it was then that country-level talks began.

"During Estonia's presidency, it was Estonia that led the talks process and introduced these principles there," Salm recalled. "The idea was planted at the time as well, taking the interests of the Estonian defense industry into account."

Milrem's selection may also have in part to do with the fact that Germany and France, which belong to the same consortium, are developing a new tank concept in which unmanned vehicles will play a role, he added.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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