Security situation a factor in proposed munitions industrial park in Estonia

Ammunition (photo is illustrative).
Ammunition (photo is illustrative). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Saturday's edition of "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) shed more light on the rationale for a proposed industrial park, to be located in Estonia and to be devoted to munitions production on the part of private sector firms which might choose to set up business there.

The current security situation means that European arms manufacturers as a while have not been able to keep up with demand, at least in the case of ammunition and given the volume of supplies sent to Ukraine; whereas in the past in Estonia it has been considered not economically viable to host a munitions producing plant in Estonia, this has changed.

This could include established international firms, who could expand their operations into Estonia, as well as domestic industry.

Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) reservist Col. Hannes Toomsalu told AK that: "We have talked with both Estonian companies and foreign firms."

"There is interest in both cases," he went on.

"Two, three or four companies have talked about their plans in quite concrete terms, and these talks will continue. Cased small-arms rounds, artillery rounds production, and the production of mines have also been under discussion, though I cannot name specific companies," he went on.

Lithuania and Latvia, too, are having the same discussions.

However, one Estonian defense industry source said that it would be premature to talk about a munitions plant or similar being built in Estonia, just yet, adding that plans are one thing, actions quite another, while too many substantive issues have not yet been resolved or even discussed, they said.

In peacetime, the state would purchase output for training purposes, if the munitions plant were to go ahead.

Col. Toomsalu, involved in the founding of the EDF following the restoration of Estonian independence, said in any case current ammunition supplies are too scant, while worldwide, industries have been caught napping to some extent.

"The big EU promise – a million shells to Ukraine – of that I think 260,000 actually have been sent. European ammunition warehouses are more or less bare now. I don't know what to forecast," he said.

As reported by ERR News, the Ministry of Defense is evaluating five municipalities in the North and West of Estonia as possible sites for the proposed development, which would when completed create around 100 new jobs.

Indrek Sirp, special advisor for defense industry development at the ministry, told AK that the proposed production plant would involve encircling hazardous areas, given explosive materials would be handled.

Sirp put the time frame for the production plant to be made ready at two to two-and-a-half years, once a decision had been made, adding that the scope of the proposed project is broad; it would be up to the private sector firms themselves what type of ammunition they would produce.

Ammunition shelf life. Various across different categories.  Cased small-arms rounds have a longer shelf life than, for example, artillery shells, he said.

The proposed side would as noted be more of an industrial park, hosting at least a couple of private sector producers, rather than just one plant for one firm.

Sirp said that the vision is for an export-capable industrial park.

"Solely on the Estonian market, the production of ammunition could be neither set up nor run, profitably speaking," Sirp said.

The planned park would be 50-100 ha in area, plus an encircling danger zone, according to the current proposal.

The original AK slot is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Vahur Lauri.

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