The multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) mentioned in the 2031 national defense development plan should be at the disposal of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) by 2024, with the procurement hopefully declared next year, EDF commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem told Vikerraadio on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Defense said on Monday that the EDF structure will be complemented with a MLRS unit sporting a regional range of fire.
"I hope the EDF can take delivery of these weapons in 2024, with Latvia and Lithuania prepared to procure these things a year later," Herem said.
The EDF commander said Estonia is planning to acquire six long-range rocket artillery systems. "We have been doing market research on how much this will cost, how many we can maintain and how much munitions we can afford to buy. All of it will soon become clear, and I believe the tender will take place inside next year," he said.
Poland is planning to procure 12 MLRS systems from the U.S. with an item price of €20 million.
Herem said that the systems should have a range of 350 kilometers, allowing Estonia to support its ally Latvia if necessary.
"We are talking about regional deterrence here. In other words, we will not be close enough for enemy artillery to affect our actions. We can be far away from the units we are supporting and be better protected. Secondly, we can hit enemy targets from very far away. For example, we can fire into Latvia to support military operations there. I believe it is crucial for us to be able to support one another," Herem said.
"We will likely procure a system that can easily be moved 100 kilometers and then fired," the EDF commander said, adding that Estonia's nearest allies Latvia and Lithuania plan to procure similar systems.
Editor: Marcus Turovski