Estonian state hoping private firms to begin producing munitions

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

The Estonian Ministry of Defense is negotiating with municipalities to identify a site of between 50 and 100 hectares on which to construct an industrial park devoted to munitions production by private sector firms. The form of ammunition NATO currently needs most is artillery shells.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have each taken different approaches to introducing ammunition production. On Wednesday, Latvian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa said Latvia would set up a state company to produce ammunition. Estonia on the other hand, plans to set up an industrial park devoted to munitions production, with the companies producing operating there also required to look for external markets themselves. According to a report by ETV show "Aktuaalne kaamera," it would not be possible to operate at a profit if only producing ammunition to meet local needs.

"Latvia is planning to set up a state-owned company and Lithuania already has ammunition production. There is also some small-caliber ammunition production in Latvia. However, at the moment, there is nothing in Estonia," said Indrek Sirp, the Estonian Ministry of Defense's special adviser for defense industry development.

Negotiations are currently under way with local authorities to determine where the park will be located. Explosive management and safety regulations require buildings in a defense industrial park of this type to be positioned at a sufficient distance from each other.

"We have presented our plan to the municipalities regarding where these sites could be located and also the chosen location. These talks are currently ongoing. We envisage between 50 and 100 hectares for the park. Two to three companies could produce [ammunition] there. And the size of the risk area will depend on the quantity and type of explosives. It could be between 600 and 800 meters wide," Sirp said.

Discussions have been held with companies regarding the production of cartridges, shells and mines at the park. Magnus Saar, head of the Estonian Center for Defense Investments (RKK), said that Europe currently produces around half a million shells each year. Over the same time period, an additional million are being used by Ukraine.

"In a conventional, large-scale war of this kind, far more is consumed than we in Europe, or even NATO as a whole, can produce," Saar said.

"The main bottleneck, which is time-consuming, is the production of shell casings, which can take as much as 36 months, or even more," Saar said.

Indrek Sirp said that there are companies interested in using the industrial park, however the situation is dynamic and subject to change.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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