TALLINN – According to Estonian defense industry companies, Russia's aggression against Ukraine has increased interest in their products.
"The interest of the defense forces of Ukraine as well as other NATO and European Union countries in the products and services of members of the Estonian Defense and Aerospace Industry Association has increased," the head of the association, Tarmo Ranisoo, told BNS.
Gert Hankewitz, marketing director for robotic systems manufacturer Milrem Robotics, pointed out that almost all European countries have increased or are in the process of increasing their defense budgets, and many of such budgets entail the acquisition of various robotic systems.
"So it can be said that the impact of the war in Ukraine is only just reaching us," Hankewitz said.
"Our main product today is the THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle, designed to support soldiers moving on foot. It can carry soldiers' equipment, for example, allowing them to take more weapons, munitions, water and food to the battlefield, while deploying various sensors to conduct reconnaissance and improve situational awareness, clear roads and streets of explosive devices and obstacles," he said.
Today, THeMIS is the most widely used unmanned vehicle of its size globally. Milrem Robotics has sold it to a total of 13 countries, eight of which are NATO members -- Estonia, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Hankewitz added.
Given the strict confidentiality requirements applied in national defense, Hankewitz remained tight-lipped when asked about the company's sales prospects, just saying that several negotiations on the sale of THeMIS vehicles were underway.
Tauri Tuubel, co-founder of the manufacturer of surveillance cameras and monitoring equipment Defendec OU, was optimistic about the company's sales prospects.
"Great interest in our products was clearly evident also at the Eurosatory defense fair held in Paris in June. In the field of defense, the number of people interested in us has increased, but there are no new clients yet. In national defense, sales cycles are longer than usual and everything takes a little longer. Our cameras guard the external borders of the European Union and NATO, for example, but we also have customers in the Middle East and South Africa," Tuubel noted.
Ragnar Tammsalu, managing director of Tactical Foodpack, producer of foodpacks for special forces, said their company had seen a surge in interest in its products.
"When the war broke out, our orders quadrupled. We essentially sold out our three months' stock in two weeks. Now, order volumes have normalized. The increase in orders came primarily from existing customers. We gained some new customers, but there was no significant increase from them. Meanwhile, when the war broke out, a number of large organizations expressed interest in our products, but unfortunately their enquiries were too large for our company," said Tammsalu.
Tactical Foodpack has customers in 34 countries around the world, but the main part of the production is sold to European countries.
According to the businesses, the western sanctions on Russia and Belarus have not caused supply difficulties, as they do not use raw materials and components from those countries. However, the executives admitted that raw materials and components have become much more expensive.