TALLINN - The Estonian Center for Defense Investment (ECDI) has signed a contract with Proteus Advanced Systems Pte. Ltd., a joint venture company of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) and ST Engineering Land Systems Ltd. (ST), to equip the Estonian defense forces with Blue Spear 5G SSM missile systems; the cost of the procurement and number of systems to be purchased has been classified.
The ECDI announced that it reached an agreement on Tuesday for developing Estonian coastal defense capabilities and arming the defense forces with the Blue Spear 5G SSM land-to-sea missile system.
Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet told journalists on Wednesday that over 100 million euros has been earmarked for developing Estonia's coastal defense capabilities, adding that the agreement signed on Tuesday is confidential and the cost of the contract will not be disclosed. When asked how many systems were purchased, Laanet said that it was "sufficient", and added that the number of systems purchased had likewise been classified.
The first weapons systems are estimated to arrive in Estonia at the end of 2023.
The ECDI said that the system to be purchased is the most modern mobile anti-ship missile system available, which will cover Estonia's entire coastal area. The procurement of the anti-ship missile system together with the naval mines acquired this summer will create a comprehensive solution for coastal defense.
"The Blue Spear 5G SSM missile system will be the most modern an innovative weapons system at the defense forces' disposal," the center said.
"This weapon system substantially improves our coastal defense and sends a clear message that we are contributing to the regional and collective defense effort. This is one of the most complex and high-tech weapon systems of all time and a huge leap forward for the Estonian defense forces," the Estonian defense minister said.
"We are proud to be selected to equip the Estonian defense forces with the advanced Blue Spear missiles. We greatly value this opportunity and look forward to deepen our cooperation with the Estonian defense forces. This is a very advanced, operational proven system, leading the sea battlefield by its capabilities and based on IAI’s many years of experience in the field of missiles, particularly with the Gabriel missile family. The strong cooperation of IAI and ST Engineering expresses the capabilities of the two companies in developing advanced battle systems. The Blue Spear system, being the advanced member of the Gabriel missile heritage, will serve as the next generation of surface to surface missile systems," Proteus Advanced Systems' general manager Ron Tryfus said.
"The chosen weapon system will form the cornerstone of Estonian naval defense for decades to come. The Estonian Navy will be able to contribute significantly both to national, regional and collective defense effort," commander of the Estonian Navy, Cmdr. Juri Saska, said.
Hand in hand with the new capability development in maritime domain, the contract provides opportunities for the Estonian defense industry.
"I am very glad that Estonia has a defense industry capable of participating in such high-tech projects," Laanet added.
Asko Kivinuk, strategic category manager for maritime defense systems at the ECDI, said that the agreement was reached fast.
"The award was based on several evaluation criteria including total cost of ownership, involvement of local industry and on the delivery time," Kivinuk said. He told journalists that the ECDI first received the description of the capability from the defense forces. Offers were taken from various manufacturers. Altogether six manufacturers presented a total of eight offers, of which four made it into the second round. The offers were assessed based on four criteria and the offer by Proteus Advanced Systems was finally chosen as the winner.
The Blue Spear missile system is an advanced precision weapon which can operate at all weather conditions, day and night and enables strike capabilities beyond the line of sight, against mobile and stationary targets at sea. The missile's maximum range is 290km. The warhead employs an active radar-homing seeker, accurate INS-based navigation capabilities and a robust system which is immune to GPS disruptions and maximal accuracy target acquisition.