Development plan: Estonia to get multiple launch rocket systems unit

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U.S. Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) fired in Estonia.
U.S. Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) fired in Estonia. Source: Ardi Hallismaa

The military portion of Estonia's 2031 national defense development plan prescribes the creation of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) unit to considerably boost Estonia's indirect fire capacity, increasing the EDF's wartime structure, improving the defensive capabilities of units and anti-tank capacity.

A unit of multiple launch rocket systems with a regional firing range will be added to the structure of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), the Ministry of Defense communicated.

Similar weapons systems have been used by allies in Estonia during the Swift Response 2021, Rail Gunner Push 2021 and Saber Strike 2016 exercises.

"An MLRS system makes it possible to attack high-value targets that are very far away. The system is used in fire and move-type tactical situations to avoid counter-fire. The weapons system can use long-range high-precision munitions," the ministry's press release reads.

Estonia will also be contributing to strategic and tactical intelligence by attaching intelligence and reconnaissance battalions to brigades. Naval capacity will see anti-ship missiles and sea mines adopted.

"Passing the updated long-term national defense development plan is of crucial significance in the current situation. We must not forget that conventional military capacity has a clear role also in hybrid crises," Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet said, adding that Estonia must continue to make efforts to reinforce its military defense both independently and in cooperation with allies.

The government on December 9 approved the 2031 development plan for national defense the aim of which is to determine feasible development of capacity to ensure deterrence and the ability to react to aggression.

The priorities of the new development plan include growing the EDF's wartime structure from 24,200 fighters to 26,700 fighters to which a 4000-strong additional reserve will be added, adopting mobile marine radars and creating a shared naval radar picture between the Baltic allies, increasing the EDF's indirect fire capacity by adopting MLRS systems, boosting territorial defense units and brigades' anti-tank capacity and procuring single-use anti-tank weapons for all infantry units.

National defense investments include renovating the Ämari Airbase, continued development of training grounds and warehouse facilities and constructing a modern wartime and disaster medicine center at Raadi in Tartu.

"The total volume of the military portion of the development plan is over €8 billion euros. Reforms aimed at saving and efficiency have been carried out in the ministry's administrative area to facilitate the creation of new capacities. A considerable part of resources aimed at national defense will reach the Estonian economy," the press release said.

Ämari Airbase to undergo renovation

The Ämari Airbase that current hosts NATO aircraft will be undergoing renovation in 2024 that will necessitate the jets moving for a period of eight months.

"Air policing in Estonia will be retained. Whether we can use another Estonian airfield or one in Latvia, for example, will become clear in the near future," Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense Kusti Salm told ERR.

The fighter jets can theoretically be based in Tallinn or Pärnu, while storing munitions at a civilian airfield and additional air traffic control capacity would require considerable additional investments.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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