The Republic of Estonia has signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to procure advanced long-range loitering munitions, making it the one of the most expensive defense procurement Estonia has ever made.
The procurement of long-range loitering munitions aims to strengthen Estonia’s defense capability by significantly increasing its indirect fire capabilities. Along with extended range artillery ammunition, anti-ship missiles, and multiple launch rocket systems, Estonia will have various capabilities to influence the adversary from long distances in the near future.
“Long-range loitering munitions are an important addition to the development of Estonia’s defenCe capability. The importance of indirect fire cannot be overestimated, as Russia has caused much of the destruction in Ukraine through indirect fire. The introduction of this new capability allows us to attack the enemy from a longer distance. As a result, indirect fire becomes more layered and flexible, increasing the range of fire, which means that the defense forces can hit the enemy where it hurts,” said Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.
Estonia’s order focused primarily on achieving long-range offensive capabilities. Criteria included precision, munition robustness, and wide-ranging simultaneous offensive capability.
“The market for long-range loitering munitions is currently turbulent. Recent conflicts such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the ongoing war in Ukraine have demonstrated the high effectiveness of this type of offensive weapon, leading to the development of such systems by several countries, with new players expected to enter the market soon,” said Ramil Lipp, armament category manager of the ECDI.
“Currently, we have made orders for long-range weapons which we cannot disclose the exact specifications of, but in the future, we plan to acquire similar weapons with different technical capabilities and for firing at different ranges,” he added.
“Estonia is a strategic partner for IAI,” IAI’s President and CEO Mr. Boaz Levi noted.
“This award reflects the growing trust and relations between Estonia and our company. IAI offers a family of loitering munition missiles – providing a wide range of solutions from the tactical to the strategic level,” Levi said, adding that IAI’s loitering munitions are particularly useful when users seek more flexibility and responsiveness in employing firepower to quickly spot the enemy and act decisively based on the information acquired by the weapon itself in real-time. Loitering munitions are suitable for naval or land platforms.
The first deliveries are expected to arrive in 2024, with the necessary training provided to the Defense Forces before deployment so they will be ready to use the systems as soon as they arrive.