Estonia likely to buy long-range antitank system from Germany's Eurospike

Russian T-90 tank. Photo is illustrative.
Russian T-90 tank. Photo is illustrative. Source: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters/Scanpix

The sole offer in a procurement of the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments (ECDI) for the purchase of a long-range antitank system for Estonia was made by German company Eurospike GmbH.

As according to a requirement set by Estonia, the weapons system must have a range of at least 4,000m, the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) will likely purchase Spike LR, Spike LR2 or Spoke ER missiles, provided that the offer by EuroSpike is deemed consistent with the terms of the procurement and successful. The Spike LR has a range of up to 4km; the latter two missiles have a range of 5.5km and 8km, respectively.

Priit Soosaar, head of the Procurement Department at the ECDI, said that the weapons to be acquired must be in serial production and in use in the armed forces of at least one NATO member state. The plan is to purchase at least 18 weapons systems complete with ammunition, and the supplier must also supply auxiliary equipment and provide technical support and also training. 

The system to be procured will significantly improve the antitank capability of the EDF's infantry brigades as the range and capacity to impact the enemy even when they are out of line of sight will increase, Maj. Alar Karileet, coordinator of the procurement at the EDF, said in October.

According to Karileet, the new equipment, which includes the so-called fire-and-update operation mode, is an improved version of the antitank weapons currently in use by the EDF. A nose-mounted camera on the missile will enable the operator to receive real-time intelligence and update target information even when there is no direct sight between the operator and the target. The weapon, ammunition and auxiliary equipment need to be man-portable as well as usable when attached to a vehicle, he added.

The weapons systems to be purchased are meant for an upgrade of the weaponry of the antitank companies of Estonia's infantry brigades, where conscripts will be trained in their use.

"Training in the use of said weapon systems is very fast, cost-effective and efficient thanks to modern simulation and training equipment," Karileet explained. "Training for instructors and active service personnel of the EDF also accounts for a substantial part of the procurement."

Spike LR missiles, which have a maximum range of 4km, are in use by the Latvian National Armed Forces and the Lithuanian Armed Forces, for instances. The EDF's current weaponry currently includes Milan and Mapats antitank missile complexes as well as the Javelin antitank system.

Upgrading arms nothing unusual

Last month, Karileet told BNS that the Mapats is listed among the weapons of the EDF but is no longer in active use. No ammunition is produced for the Mapats anymore, and the antitank missile complex itself is outdated, he added.

"Each antitank system in use in the EDF and each new system to be procured has its own purpose," he explained. "Equipment is constantly developing, and certain systems, such as the Milan, are approaching the end of their life cycle. The procurement of new armament systems and the constant updating of the capabilities of the EDF is normal."

He noted that Estonia does currently possess medium-range antitank capability. "According to the specifications currently in use in the EDF, the Javelin constitutes a medium-range antitank system," he said.

Along with the purchase of infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), self-propelled artillery, new automatic firearms and replenishments of the stocks of wartime units, the acquisition of the antitank systems is among the priorities of national defence-related procurements of the current decade.

As a result of the competitive negotiated procurement, a seven-year framework agreement will be concluded with the supplier. The estimated cost of the contract, which must include an option for the purchase of additional units, is €40 million.

EuroSpike GmbH belongs to German arms manufacturers Diehl BGT Defence and Rheinmetall Defence Electronics in equal portions of 40%; 20% of shares belong to the developer of the weapons system, the Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, via the Dutch holding company ERCAS B.V.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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