Estonia basing medium-range air defense procurement on price, capability

A German-built IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defense missile system at a weapons expo in Berlin.
A German-built IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defense missile system at a weapons expo in Berlin. Source: DPA/Scanpix

Estonia is basing its procurement of medium-range air defense systems on their price and capabilities; while excluding Russia and Belarus from the list of potential bidders, it will not be taking into consideration how a system's country of production has behaved during Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

"No country is excluded from the procurement, with certain exceptions such as Russia, Belarus and North Korea, as we're acquiring the most economically advantageous and technically capable system in the market situation," said Priit Soosaar, communications and radar category manager at the Procurement Department of the Estonian Center for Defense Investments (ECDI).

Asked whether Estonia would take into account in their selection whether a system's country of production has been receptive to authorizing the transfer of weapons to Ukraine as the latter fends off Russian aggression, Soosaar responded in the negative.

"This system is being acquired for the defense of the Estonian state, due to which the decision will not be impacted by how easy it would be to obtain authorization for the re-export of the system," he explained.

According to Soosaar, the medium-range air defense procurement is currently underway; six bidders have made it into the second round, and a decision will be made by spring.

As both Estonia and Latvia currently lack their own medium-range air defense systems, the two neighboring countries decided late last June to launch a joint procurement for them. The ECDI confirmed to ERR on Friday that this procurement is still taking place in cooperation with Latvia.

At the end of July, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said that Estonia could be getting its own medium-range air defense system in three years' time.

The government decided the allocation of the funds necessary for the procurement when drawing up the state budget strategy in September.

Depending on the system, medium-range air defense can have a range of 20-75 kilometers. They are used in defense of forces' areas of presence or operations and sites or objects of military or economic importance as well as maintaining airspace control.

Estonia also currently has a joint procurement underway with Poland for PIORUN short-range man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs), the contract for which was signed in September. The first deliveries are expected in the second half of this year.

Estonia is already armed with Mistral very short-range air defense (SHORAD) missile systems as well as ZU-23-2 towed anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannons, nicknamed Sergei.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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