New €3.8-billion defense spending plan for 2023-2026 unveiled
Estonia's defense spending plan for the years 2023-2026 is now worth just over €3.8 billion, and will include the procurement of artillery and mid-range air defense systems, sufficient to cover the entire territory.
Covering the period 2023 to 2026 and unveiled at a press conference given by defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform), Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem and defense ministry Secretary-General Kusti Salm, the new defense plan, which will bring an extra two tranches of defense spend, worth €340 million and €476 million, on top of the previously-agreed €3.009 billion additional funding the government had already announced.
Almost half of the money from the defense plan, 48.6 percent or €1.848 billion, is earmarked for a range of procurement, while €123.25 million will be spent on infrastructure construction and e813 million on personnel costs.
One of the lynch-pin components of the budget is the procurement of Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), along with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) unit dedicated to that task; tracked armored vehicles for the 2nd Infantry Brigade, and the infrastructure for the new capabilities and procurement of medium-range air defense – in the latter case the deadline for readiness and the capability to cover the entire territory of Estonia is 2025, EDF commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem said.
€816 million already allocated by the government will include further procurement of South Korean-made K9 Thunder Self-Propelled guns, as well as short-range anti-tank systems and ammunition (namely the Javelin system which has proven highly effective in the Ukraine war, and the Israeli-made Spike system).
€37 million for NATO allies' infrastructure
Intelligence and early warning will also receive additional funding, Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) said, with a total of €278 million to be allocated to this over the four years.
Infrastructure designated for the hosting of allied personnel is to receive €37 million for its construction.
Defense League to get €254 million
The volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) will be boosted to 20,000 members, under the current plan, with the total €254 million spend to include training and the procurement of equipment and ammunition, as well as infrastructure, 2023-2026.
EDF conscription is projected to rise to 4,000 per year.
No change will be made to the number of personnel involved in international missions, Laanet said, namely around 70 people, primarily with EU and UN missions.
The acquisition of new military radar will also have the knock-on effect of making wind farm-building in Estonia more viable in more areas, the defense minister added – wind turbines beyond certain dimensions had been adjudged to interfere with the older radar's functioning.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte