U.S. artillerymen fired the HIMARS MLRS in Saaremaa on Sunday as part of the U.S. Defender 23 major training exercise. Local Defense League members and Estonian artillery crews were also in attendance before taking delivery of their own HIMARS systems in a year's time.
It took the HIMARS crews just a few minutes to unload from the C-17 cargo plane that bought them to Kuressaare from Latvia at noon on Sunday. The systems were ready to be fired at their mission location by 2 p.m.
"The target we tried to hit today was around 14 kilometers away, which is how far the missiles flew," said Cpt. Kossi Komlassen, head of the 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment, also known as "Sudden Death" out of Michigan.
The Sunday event was a training mission for the HIMARS crews that flew out of Latvia less than three hours before being ready to fire 50 km from Kuressaare in Saaremaa. What would be the NATO reaction time in case of an actual conflict?
Cpt. Komlassen said that the exercise saw the U.S. crews training with the Estonian Defense Forces and local fire control, and that the action would be much faster in combat situations where civilians would not be so close.
The HIMARS has not been fired on many occasions in Estonia, which is why Estonian artillery crews were also in attendance and described the fire exercise as "very impressive."
The EDF is set to take delivery of its HIMARS systems in 2025.
Editor: Marcus Turovski