Estonian reservists learn to use short-range air defense system bought from Poland

  • 2024-02-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - From Monday to Friday, a voluntary reservist training event is taking place at the Tapa base of the Estonian defense forces to teach reservists to use the Piorun very short-range, man portable air defense systems bought by Estonia from Poland. 

The defense forces received the Piorun systems, an air defense weapon developed in Poland and first fielded in 2019, which is capable of engaging targets at a distance of up to eight kilometers and allows units to operate around the clock, at the beginning of January this year.

The system is in use both in Poland and Ukraine, where it has proven its reliability, being one of the most successful weapon systems in the Ukrainian war, the Estonian Center for Defense Investment said in a press release in January.

In addition to battlefield effectiveness, these air defense systems are much easier to deploy, and operation is manageable after just a few hours of training. The system will be used by a separate war-time unit of the Estonian defense forces made up of reservists, which will operate under the direct command of the division.

“Piorun air defense missiles provide additional air defense not only to maneuver units but also to objects that are not in the immediate vicinity of the front line but are located further in the rear, yet are important from the perspective of Estonia's defense," said Lt. Col. Tanel Lelov, head of the air and missile defense section of the Estonian Division. "In Ukraine, these missiles have proven to be effective against most airborne attack assets, and certainly, the principles of their use there will be taken into account in training and employing Estonian units," the officer added.

This is the first joint defense procurement between Estonia and Poland, with the advantages of quick delivery and a relatively low cost compared to the value of the destroyed target. The technical compatibility of Polish weapon systems, crucial for the security of our region, was also a decisive factor.

The framework agreement was signed between the Estonian Center for Defense Investment and the Polish defense technology company Mesko in the autumn of 2022, and deliveries of the weapon system to Estonia began at the turn of the year.

"Despite the general security situation, high demand, and component shortages, Mesko has been able to fulfil its contractual obligations, and deliveries have been timely, showing the utmost commitment of the Polish state and our contracting partner," Ramil Lipp, category manager for armaments at the Estonian Center for Defense Investment, has said.

The development of short-range air defense capabilities cost Estonia 103 million euros, including VAT, with the government allocating the sum from Estonia's military defense reinforcement package.