TALLINN – Estonia's Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet and his Latvian counterpart Artis Pabriks signed a letter of intent at the NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday, which will lay the foundation for the joint procurement of medium-range anti-aircraft systems by Estonia and Latvia.
"The NATO summit has sent a clear message that help will be given to those who are ready also to defend themselves. Estonia is a trustworthy ally and certainly one of the countries that will do its part," Defense Minister Kalle Laanet said, adding that it is important that Estonia, in addition to the support offered by allies, is also prepared to contribute to air defense on its own.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said that Russia's aggression in Ukraine clearly shows the need for active air defense systems.
"I would like to thank once again Spain, which recently deployed such systems in Latvia, but we are also working on developing our own capabilities. I am pleased that we are implementing this project together with Estonia, thus strengthening our regional cooperation and common defense," the Latvian minister said.
The Estonian Ministry of Defense has introduced various air defense capabilities to the government, and a specific proposal to create an active air defense capability is planned to be submitted to the government at the end of July.
Initial medium-range active air defense capability will provide air cover for the mobilization of reserve units of the Estonian defense forces and will create the preconditions for the arrival of allied reinforcements at Estonian ports and airfields, as well as enable the conduct of maneuvers by the ground forces. The additional active air defense of the allies will strengthen Estonia's existing capabilities and will also provide additional support to incoming allied forces, for example by providing protection against enemy aircraft and cruise missiles.
According to the letter of intent, the joint procurement process of active air defense systems for Estonia and Latvia would be managed by Estonia's Center for Defense Investment. The basis of the acquisition will be overlapping military guidance by the commanders of the defense forces of the two countries.