Riigikogu defense committee: 5-year plan needed for air defense capability

Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu in Tallinn and the scene of one of last Wednesday's attacks.
Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu in Tallinn and the scene of one of last Wednesday's attacks. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Riigikogu's National Defense Committee has proposed the government establish plans for Estonia's medium-range air defense capability by 2025, amid the current, deteriorating security situation.

A national defense loan for the purpose could be taken if needed, the committee found.

The committee says it would not be viable to develop medium-range air defense capability at the expense of limiting or cutting existing capabilities, heightening the importance of drawing up a plan for the establishment of a medium-range air defense capability in the 2022–2031 National Defense Development Plan.

The committee's proposal is to update the development plan within the framework of the State Budget Strategy 2023–2026 process, since the planned percentage of defense spending as a share of GDP has been significantly increased compared with the current, 2022–2025 strategy unveiled this year

The new level of defense spending has to be decided through to the end of the Development Plan (until 2031), the committee says.

The committee also acknowledged the government's efforts in increasing defense spending, which will rise to €749.6 million next year and constitute 2.31 per cent of GDP – in excess of the NATO 2 percent minimum requirement.

Further increases in defense spending, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product, are unavoidable, however, the committee says.

A September 2020 statement by the committee had also set out the possibility of a loan.

The committee discussed the issue at three sittings, in October and November.

Medium-range air defense is a lynchpin of Estonia's longer-term plans, and coastal defenses are incorporated into this.

Other key aspects include fully mechanizing both regular infantry brigades, sea mine procurement and deployment and field artillery development, such as via the already concluded procurements of K9 Thunder howitzers.

Estonia is a NATO member and has the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup at Tapa since 2017, and the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission at Ämari, since 2014.

Riigikogu committees are cross-party affairs. There are 11 standing committees, including defense, and six select committees.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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