Defense ministry selects locations for new early-warning radar

Kellavere radar.
Kellavere radar. Source: Rene Kundla/ ERR

The Ministry of Defense has chosen the location of planned new radar stations, to be erected on spoil heaps in Ida-Viru County. The two radars will cost €70 million in total, while the first will be ready in 2024.

The radar not only boost Estonia's defensive capabilities but will also have dimensions suitable to coexist with wind turbines, an issue which has been on the table for several years.

Oliver Tüür, head of the ministry's department of national defense information systems, said that: "The radar to be erected in 2024 is planned for the top of a slag heap south of Jõhvi,"

"Only a sufficiently accurate early warning system can provide important information to respond effectively and adequately to possible aggressive activities from the air. Estonian air force radar is a very important part of this system," Tüür went on.

While the ministry did not specify the exact location of the planned radar, ERR reports that slag-heaps at Tammik and Viru oil shale mines, both on the southern outskirts of Jõhvi, correspond to the ministry's descriptions of two possible options.

The location of the second radar, planned for 2025, has been chosen but not yet specified.

Around 20 percent of the area of mainland Estonia will be freed up for wind-farm usage after 2024, rising to 60 percent after the installation of the second radar the following year.

While altitude restrictions will remain in place around a 15km radius from the radar, as well as in coastal and island zones, the change broadens the scope for development of wind farms.

One notable, long-running case was that planned for Aidu, also in Ida-Viru County. Businessmen brothers Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg have seen continual opposition to the project, partly on the grounds that the planned turbines would have interfered with the older radar.

Another radar currently at Kellavere, in Lääne-Viru County (pictured), will after 2024 be relocated to Ämari air base, west of Tallinn and home to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, ERR reports.

This radar is operated by the United States Air Force.

Estonia's air force (Õhuvägi) is organizationally a part of the Estonian Defense Forces, rather than being a standalone service.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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