Bringing a unit of the Patriot long-range missile defense system to Estonia is a symbolic step on the part of allies, and there are plans for joint training exercises involving the system to be conducted in the future, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (IRL) said on Friday.
"The allies are with us, and what would demonstrate this better than bringing an impressive air defense system here for demonstration," Luik told BNS referring to the participation of the Patriot launcher unit in the military parade on Estonia's centennial on Saturday.
"But it's not about the parade alone. The officers that are with the Patriot system have held discussions also with our Air Force. The subject definitely is how to participate in training exercises in the future," the minister said.
The missile system will remain in Estonia until Feb. 25.
The unit of the Patriot system that arrived in Estonia belongs to the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and is part of the air and missile defense system of U.S. Army Europe.
On Friday personnel of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command demonstrated the system to the leaders of the Estonian Ministry of Defense, the defense forces, and U.S. Ambassador James Melville. On Thursday the missile launcher was shown to officers of the Estonian Air Force at the Amari air base.
The unit of the Patriot system was brought to Estonia for a joint exercise with the Estonian Air Force. In the course of the exercise, the Patriot missile system was linked up to the surveillance and command system of the Estonian Air Force and the integrated air and missile defense system including all of NATO. Estonia has rehearsed cooperation with crews of the Patriot missile system on earlier occasions as well, and similar exercises are planned for the future as well.
The Patriot launcher will be part of the military parade in Tallinn on Saturday and displayed to the public along with other military hardware after the parade.
The MIM 104 Patriot mobile surface-to-air missile system is among the most advanced in the world. It has a range of up to 160 kilometers depending on the type of missile, and its missiles have a maximum flight altitude of 25 kilometers.
Editor: Dario Cavegn