A procurement of 220 armored tracked vehicles for Estonia's defense forces, worth €200 million, has been expedited due to the current security situation, the Center for Defense Investment (RKK) says.
The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) has been using Finnish-made Patria Pasi armored personnel carriers for nearly two decades, and the procurement is set to augment, rather than replace these.
No specific potential manufacturer has been named for the new procurement, which is already underway, and may include more than one firm.
Karmo Saar, Category RKK manager of armored vehicles said that: "This means that the projected time-frame for announcing the tender is already the second quarter of this year, and we are looking for a partner who will be able to deliver all the specified types of vehicles by the end of 2024."
Ivar Janson, head of the RKK's procurement department, said the lion's share of the vehicles will go to the EDF's 2nd Infantry Brigade.
Janson said: "The modern-day battlefield requires a very high level of mobility from the units, which must be able to relocate quickly on the battlefield. Tracked armored vehicles are like battlefield 'taxis', designed to transport personnel from one point to another.
"Most battlefield losses are caused by indirect enemy artillery fire, and the tracked vehicles are optimized to provide protection against this threat," Janson went on, according to an RKK press release.
The RKK is nearing the end of the preparations for the EDF procurement; Karmo Saar said that the deal will incorporate both 4x4 and 6x6 armored vehicles (the Patria Pasi is in the latter configuration – ed.), and will total €220 million.
He said: "Since 4x4 and 6x6 armored vehicles belong to different market segments, they are also separate components of the procurement. In both segments, we have identified at least four suitable manufacturers worldwide," he said, adding that according to preliminary information, there are also manufacturers with both types of armored vehicles in their product portfolio.
While mechanized infantry is at the core of Estonia's defense doctrine so far as the two main infantry brigades go, only the Scouts battalion, Kalev battalion and Viru battalion, all of the 1st Infantry Brigade, are equipped as things stand.
The RKK says it will submit its tender to all suppliers who fit the requirements and price range, based on earlier research.
The manufacturer must also ensure top-level maintenance throughout the roughly 30-year life-cycle of the vehicles, the RKK says.
The EDF has been using Finnish-made Patria Pasi XA-180 and XA188 variants since 2004, while the shelf-life with the 1st Infantry Brigade for these has been prolonged to 2038.
The 2nd Infantry Brigade up until now has been using trucks to transport its troops.
Editor: Andrew Whyte