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National Defence Committee: Local contractors have export potential, should be supported

Milrem's Themis system at an exhibition.
Milrem's Themis system at an exhibition. Source: (Milrem)

The Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee heard representatives of the Estonian Defence Industry Association (EDIA) on Tuesday, getting an overview of the state and activities of the sector. Both the association and the committee see export potential, and think that legislation should be adapted where needed to support them.

Chairman of the committee, MP Hannes Hanso (SDE), said that the local defense industry was a rapidly developing sector that needed attention both from the state and the public. “We already have outstanding and successful companies with world class competence that have to break through to the large markets of Europe and America as well as Asia and the Middle East,” Hanso said.

According to Hanso, cooperation of research institutions, the state, and businesses is important. “In a small country like Estonia, defense companies cannot survive without exports, so that is the keyword.” He added that legislation should not stand in the way of the development of business, and needed to be updated in order to guarantee the conditions necessary for local defense businesses to remain competitive.

EDIA’s Ingvar Pärnamäe said in his presentation of the sector’s work that it was very small, and that in addition to high quality and effective product development, export was also very important. Beyond that, the focus needed to be on attracting investments to Estonia.

The local defense industry’s future ambition is to reach a point where it could create added value, for example in the cyber defense sector. For this, it needed the political support of the state to break down export barriers, as all countries generally preferred buying from their own local defense contractors.

From among local businesses, ELI and Threod Systems have so far sold unmanned aerial vehicles to more than 30 countries. The observation activities of Estonian authorities along the eastern border use border guard systems produced by contractor Defendec, and mobile modular hospitals produced by a joint venture of Maru and Semetron can be assembled in 60 minutes. According to EDIA, there is export potential.

Rantelon with its electronic jammers follows a new trend in the defense industry, Cybernetica produces sea surveillance systems and communication systems, Samelin and Galvi Linda produce personal equipment and boots. Englo produces blasting machines and mine detectors, while Milrem builds unmanned tracking vehicles. Guardtime is active in the field of cyber security, and has already expanded to the U.S. market.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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