Estonian DefMin's new development plan to bring additional weaponry

  • 2021-03-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The development plan of the Estonian Ministry of Defense for 2022-2025, which has been endorsed by Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet, calls for the acquisition of new weapons, introduction of naval mines and coastal defense systems, and the continuation of the introduction of self-propelled artillery into the weaponry of the defense forces. 

In addition, the command capability of the defense forces will be developed, situation awareness will improve, including when it comes to maritime surveillance meeting NATO requirements, and the tactical communications system will be developed.

The minister of defense described it as important for Estonia to be able to maintain, under the new development plan, its existing capabilities, while also developing new ones.

"A good example of this is the steps taken to develop maritime defenses, for instance, in which we have had several shortfalls and in which we will make a significant development leap with investments by Estonia and allies towards better situational awareness, communications and protectedness. We are also embarking on a project of navy of the future, so to speak, which should offer guidance on what the navies of Estonia and other countries will look like in 10-15 years," Laanet said.

He said that developing of defense readiness is a long-term process, the putting of which on a pause would affect Estonia's security for decades to come. 

"With the new development plan we wish to develop also those capacities that enable us to  support the civilian society during a crisis," Laanet said, explaining that field hospital solutions  are to be developed at both the 1st and 2nd infantry brigades.

One field hospital of the defense forces was deployed to Saaremaa last spring to support the local hospital in handling the coronavirus crisis. Solutions offered by Estonian businesses have largely been used with the field hospital.

During the four-year period, the Ministry of Defense intends to support the development of the Estonian defense industry and co-finance business operators' research and development projects having a high export potential with an amount of 3.2 million euros in total.

During 2019, the Ministry of Defense channeled 338 million euros inclusive of VAT into defense procurements, infrastructure, IT services, real estate management, outsourced food services and various operating costs. Over half, or 53 percent of it, went to the Estonian economy.

Also during the period covered by the new development plan, over half of the services and products are to be bought from Estonian businesses.

Under the new development plan, new small arms and light weapons, machine-guns, antitank missile complexes, antitank grenade launchers, sniper guns and mortars are to be introduced.

Investments in the weaponry and equipment of the territorial defense units to be set up on the basis of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps will be increased. In 2025, the annual amount going towards the operation of Kaitseliit will total 43.7 million euros, to which the procurements to be made for territorial defense units will be added. The principle will continue to be observed according to which units formed on the basis of Kaitseliit are equipped on an equal basis with units of the defense forces. 

In addition to several units already fully equipped, logistics battalions, combat engineer battalions and the military police company will be equipped to the full extent under the development plan.

Under large-scale procurements, means of transport will be purchased. Also, the protectedness of soldiers will be improved and laser simulation equipment bought which enables company-level units to realistically and effectively rehearse actions under limited training conditions.

Continuous attention will be paid to ensuring sufficient supplies of ammunition. In 2022-2025,  135 million euros will be invested in ammunition, on top of which comes an amount of at least 20 million euros annually invested under the national defense investment program. 

The development plan for the area of government of the Ministry of Defense describes military national defense objectives and the required resources for achieving those objectives, the allocation of which proceeds from the National Development Plan for Defense, the military advice of the commander of the defense forces, and NATO force capability objectives.