Estonia, Poland to jointly procure short-range air defense systems
Estonia and Poland will jointly procure short-range air defense systems in a "landmark" deal that is part of a drive to strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries.
The Estonian Center for Defense Investment (RKIK) and the Polish defense technology company Mesko have signed an agreement to buy Polish-made PIORUN short-range man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs).
Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said this is a leap forward for the Estonian short-range air defense capability, which in turn is an upgrade for Estonian self-defense capability as a whole.
"This procurement is also a landmark for our defense cooperation, both in terms of strengthening regional security as well as bilateral cooperation," he added.
The system can hit targets from a distance of up to eight kilometers and can be used both in the daytime and at night. It is already being used in Poland and Ukraine.
Deputy Chief of Defence major general Veiko-Vello Palm called the new air defense system an asset to the Defense Forces' capability to destroy targets in the air.
"First and foremost, [it] will increase the mobility and reaction speed of our air defense capabilities. This means we will be better defended at precise locations, where and when it is needed most," he said.
The Estonian government has allocated €103 million from the defense reinforcement package to strengthen air defense capabilities.
Pevkur said the benefits stemming from the joint procurement include faster delivery and the technical fit of the Polish weapons systems, which allows for "continued development of the Estonian defense capability" and a secure supply chain. The countries will also be able to organize the validation of weapons systems and missile testing jointly.
Polish Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak said the deal proves Poland's armament industry is able to produce "good, proved and modern" equipment for both the country and its allies.
"Estonia is our close ally. And it is a historic moment for our joint, bilateral cooperation among us as allies as well as defense industry cooperation," he said.
The first PIORUN deliveries are expected in the second half of 2023 and training will begin next year before the systems are delivered to Estonia. It will be used in brigades and territorial defense units.
One of the weapon's benefits is that it can be moved quickly and stealthily to areas at risk of a landing operation or to an area, where it is known that the enemy's movements are covered by close-range air support from helicopters or fighters, the Estonian Ministry of Defense said. Additionally, the system is hard to detect and destroy for the enemy.
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Editor: Helen Wright