Riigikogu committee OKs allocation of further half billion to defense
At an extra meeting of the National Defense Committee of the Riigikogu on Thursday, Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) provided an overview of the government's decision to use additional funding to improve the Estonian state's defense capability. The committee approved the allocation of half a billion euros in additional funds to defense.
National Defense Committee chairman and MP Enn Eesmaa (Center) underlined that in today's security situation, each additional euro will help improve Estonia's defense capability, according to a Riigikogu press release.
"The developing of the defense sector and the maintenance of military capabilities is very expensive, but at the moment, a greater contribution to national defense is inevitable," Eesmaa said.
Estonia is moving in the right direction, but the creation of its medium range air defense capability the financing thereof still require a firm resolution, committee deputy chairman and MP Leo Kunnas (EKRE) said.
According to Laanet, the Ministry of Defense was tasked with determining in four months whether Estonia would be able to develop its medium range air defense capability in cooperation with allies. He said that NATO allies will be able to provide this. The goal is to achieve medium range air defense capability by 2025.
The minister noted that the aim is to acquire short-range air defense for protecting Estonian troops, as well as developing anti-tank weaponry and indirect fire capabilities and building the infrastructure necessary to receive allies. Laanet said that Estonia would take lessons from Ukraine into account when improving its defense capability.
He also highlighted the role of the volunteer Estonian Defense League (KL), and noted that one goal is to strengthen the structure of Estonia's territorial defense as well as further train and equip the members of the league.
EDF commander: Plan includes anti-shipping missiles, MLRS
Estonia's defense plan will include anti-shipping missiles, offensive drones and boosting membership of the KL, Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Lt. Gen. Martin Herem said.
Both short-range and long-range defensive capabilities are in view, Herem said at a press conference he appeared at alongside defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) and following the announcement that €600 million in investments in defense and security has been earmarked for the period 2022-2025.
The anti-shipping missiles are to be procured within the next five years, while Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) should be in EDF hands by 2025, he said, and a medium-range air defense capacity will be developed within the EDF also, he said.
The contract for MLRS should be signed this year, he added.
By developing long-range capabilities, a firing range of 70 to 300km is the goal, he added.
With increased capabilities comes increased personnel requirements, Herem added, while this will include raising the Defense League's roster by around 10,000 people – almost a 50 percent rise – with a focus on land-based defense.
The stock of Javelin anti-tank missiles and other anti-tank weapons should be doubled, Herem added.
On the tactical level, night vision and thermal vision capabilities are also in the plan, as is the rapid replenishment of ammunition.
Thursday's announcement concerned funds on top of the €380 million in defense spending the government signed off on in January.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla