EDF commander: Cuts won't involve coastal defense development

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A government austerity plan does not affect the procurement of coastal defense capabilities, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Lt. Gen. Martin Herem says.

Lt. Gen. Herem made his remarks while in Hiiumaa during a joint Polish-Estonian tactical exercise involving the Estonian Navy (Merevägi) and visiting Polish soldiers.

Polish ship defense missile complexes, naval strike missile (NSMs), made in Norway, were in Estonia for the first time in 2019.

The missile's range is 200 km. The current exercise involves maritime targets being identified by naval and Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) vessels and a Polish drone. At home, the Poles also use satellites in such exercises.

Information is collected at the maritime operations command center and a fire order is delegated back, after which the Polish unit fires.

"Our task is to prevent the possession of the sea area around your islands, Hiiumaa and Saaremaa. The orders come from your naval operations command center to protect Estonian territorial waters," Captain Premyslaw Karas, Commander of the Polish Navy, said.

The Merevägi's commander - the navy is organizationally a part of the EDF rather than being a standalone service - said that compared with the 2019 exercise, Estonian maritime surveillance systems have developed. This year, the main goal is to get communication channels up and running.

The procurement of sea mines and coastal protection complexes is underway in Estonia.

On Tuesday, EDF commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem, reviewed possible cuts with the Ministry of Defense, and this week he will submit proposals to the ministry. Herem said the cuts in coastal protection capabilities would not be threatened.

"The announcement of this tender, I hope, is a matter of days. And with this capability development, we are moving forward. We are also making these cuts for the same capability development. So it is not in danger," Herem confirmed.

The purchase of sea mines is also still planned, Herem confirmed.

"Mine procurement is coming. And I think we've gone even further with that than the Coast Guard missiles. And we'll probably sign a deal this year," Herem said.

Rear Admiral Kristofer Jaworsky, commander of the Polish naval component, flew in from Poland to inspect his unit. Currently, there is no political dimension involved in the exercise, as neither the Estonian nor the Polish command will make an unilateral decision to destroy a maritime target.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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