Estonia inks contract to buy IRIS-T medium-range air defense systems

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece and Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur in Nuremberg.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece and Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur in Nuremberg. Source: Diehl Defence

Estonia and Latvia signed the contract to purchase IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defense systems from Germany's Diehl Defense at a meeting with their German counterpart in Nuremberg.

The procurement will dramatically increase the safety of the two countries' air spaces both as concerns safeguarding civilian and military infrastructure, a spokesperson for the Estonian Defense Investments Center (RKIK) said.

The nearly €400 million tender constitutes the biggest single defense contract in Estonian history.

"Estonia's national defense has reached a new milestone with this contract," Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur said, adding that, "Russia's barbarous war in Ukraine has shown that air defense is critical for protecting the population, armed forces and vital infrastructure from enemy air strikes."

Pevkur added that the historicity and importance of the procurement for Germany was confirmed by the fact that German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius participated in the signing, which took place at the Diehl Defense Development Centre in Röthenbach near Nuremberg.

Priit Soosaar, strategic category manager (C4I, Cyber & Radars) for RKIK, said that the agency managed to ensure short delivery times and the best price during the project.

"Close cooperation with Latvia made it possible to manage the project more efficiently, get economies of scale and also gave us a better position in negotiations. In the future, similar systems will allow to improve interoperability, exchange experience, share spare parts and ammunition and organize joint training," he said.

In addition to the air defense system, including launchers, radars, fire control centers and missiles, the Estonian Centre for Defense Investments will also procure other supporting elements, such as training and life-cycle equipment. Furthermore, the framework contract will provide the possibility to acquire in the future various modifications of air defense systems, including systems with long-range capability.

The IRIS-T SLM air defense system to be procured is designed to be used against manned or unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles, guided weapons systems and certain types of ballistic missiles. Thanks to its capability, the system is able to affect multiple targets simultaneously and eliminate threats at a range of up to 40 kilometers and an altitude of 20 km above the ground.

Estonia and Latvia signed a mutual intentions protocol to jointly acquire medium-range air defense at the NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022. In July last year, the Estonian Centre for Defense Investments signed an agreement with the Latvian Ministry of Defense to commence a joint procurement. The Estonian government allocated the funds for the procurement in September 2022.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

Source: RKIK

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