Finland and Latvia will start manufacturing armored personnel carriers for both countries' armed forces this year. Estonia joined the initiative last spring but pulled out in the development phase in October because of mounting costs.
Estonia has been using Finnish Pasi armored vehicles for the past 15 years that will now undergo modernization to remain in service until 2048.
Patria, a joint venture of the Finnish state and the Norwegian Kongsberg Gruppen, is establishing joint ventures with Latvian companies that manufacture sheet metal and service and repair heavy trucks. This cooperation will produce an armored personnel carrier and command and control vehicle for Latvian and Finnish armed forces.
"Patria is making preparations for starting mass production this year provided clients need deliveries. We have an agreement with a Latvian company in a joint project and negotiations have progressed quite far with several others," said head of Patria Land Jussi Järvinen.
Estonia has postponed procuring new armored vehicles until 2025-2030 after procuring 24 K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers and 10 support vehicles as well as rebuilding 37 support armored vehicles.
"We have mapped six manufacturers who can manufacture the kind of vehicle we need at an acceptable price point," said Ivar Janson, head of armor procurements at the National Defense Investments Center (RKIK).
The Estonian Defense Forces has 56 older Pasi XA 180 and 70 newer XA 188 armored personnel carriers. The service life of the former needs to be extended until 2028, while the newer Pasis will remain in service until 2048.
"We have the armored vehicles we need to equip and arm existing structures. And that is enough for now," said Lt. Col. Tõnis Metjer, senior staff officer at the EDF Headquarters.
Patria is offering to extend the service life of old armored vehicles. The company will also be refitting 300 Pasis of the Finnish armed forces.
"It goes beyond regular maintenance. The machine will be stripped down to the chassis. This has been done in Finland and could be done for Estonia if they need to keep using their Pasis," Järvinen said.
Estonia and Latvia have procured ammunition together in the past. Last spring, the two countries' armed forces procured Carl Gustav M-4 recoilless anti-tank rifles manufactured by SAAB Dynamics.
Editor: Marcus Turovski