Spain will deploy NASAMS air defense systems to Estonia for four months to strengthen NATO's eastern flank after the two countries struck a deal on Tuesday.
Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) and Minister of Defense of Spain Margarita Robles made the agreement on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels.
NASAMS are a medium-range ground-based air defense system, Pevkur said in a statement.
The weapon will fill a "critical gap" in the country's defense capabilities, he added. Estonia is in the final stages of procuring its own air defense systems.
Muchas gracias! Estonian DefMin @HPevkur and Spanish DefMin Margarita Robles agreed that Spain will deploy a #NASAMS air defence system to Estonia in April for a period of four months. #WeAreNATO #StrongerTogether— MoD Estonia (@MoD_Estonia) February 14, 2023
➡️Read more:https://t.co/RaghlVevGE pic.twitter.com/o1LUZfnyp7
"This is a short-term solution, however, we are already preparing a more sustainable solution. To that end, with Latvia and Lithuania, we made a proposal in NATO to establish an air defense rotation model, similar to the Baltic Air Policing mission currently in place. Therefore, hopefully, subsequent rotations in cooperation with Allies will also become possible," Pevkur said.
The minister said Estonian forces will learn the "tactical specifics" of the weapon and give them the experience of integrating medium-range air defense system with other defense systems.
The NASAMS combat-ready unit will be based at Ämari Air Base and will be deployed to Estonia on the command of the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
A similar unit was sent to Latvia last year.
President: Thank you Spain!
President Alar Karis thanked Spain for contributing to Estonia's defense on Tuesday.
"Mid-range air defense is a critical element in the #NATO posture in the Baltic region. We will work in NATO to further strengthen this for the NATO Vilnius Summit. Thank you Spain!," he wrote on social media.
Estonia welcomes important contribution from #Spain to the defence of #Estonia and NATO. Mid-range air defence is a critical element in the #NATO posture in the Baltic region. We will work in NATO to further strengthen this for the NATO Vilnius Summit. Thank you Spain !— Alar Karis (@AlarKaris) February 14, 2023
Editor: Helen Wright