The Estonian Air Force (EAF) is to receive two PZL M28 Skytruck transport aircraft as a gift from the U.S. The aircraft are to arrive in Estonia next year.
The Estonian Centre for Defence Investment (ECDI) signed an agreement between the U.S. and Estonian governments according to which Estonia is to receive two transport aircraft of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) program, an ECDI spokesperson said.
It is a transaction between governments in which Estonia will receive two PZL M28/C-145 Skytruck aircraft worth a total of $6 million as a gift on condition that Estonia covers the costs needed to ensure they conform to European flight safety regulations as well as transport costs.
The two aircraft were built in Poland in 2009 and have been preserved until now; they are in good technical condition and are undergoing inspection. According to the spokesperson, the planes are to arrive in Estonia next year, replacing the An-2 transport aircraft currently in use by the Estonian Air Force.
The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) announced at the end of 2014 that the EAF would put into service two Sherpa C-23B+ light military transport aircraft to be purchased from the U.S. the following year, replacing the Antonov An-2 planes in use at the time.
EAF spokespeople told BNS in July 2015 that the sale and purchase agreement was planned to be signed "within a couple of weeks" and the planes were expected to be delivered in 2016.
The plan was later abandoned as, according to spokespeople, although the purchase price of the aircraft would have been symbolic in nature, analysis showed that the planes would have been too expensive to maintain.
The M28 needs a shorter runway to take off than the Sherpa, which means it will be able to land on Estonia's small airfields. In addition, unlike the Sherpa, the production of which was discontinued 25 years ago, the M28 is still manufactured today, which means that spare parts are available and its maintenance will thus be cheaper.
The EAF uses light transport planes for training, observation flights, medical evacuation flights, airborne landing transport and other transport flights in Estonia and abroad.
Editor: Aili Vahtla