Estonia plans to procure a “significant quantity of loitering munitions” to increase its indirect fire capability in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The effort was introduced by Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur during a cabinet meeting last week.
The quantity and amount of the kamikaze drones were not specified, but Pevkur said it would be among Estonia’s most significant defense procurements.
Market research for the sale was completed last year. An agreement is expected in the first quarter of 2023, bringing the procurement near completion.
The loitering munitions are expected to give Estonian Defence Forces the ability to engage threats at greater distances.
“It is impossible to overestimate the importance of indirect fire in the development of Estonia’s defence capability, as the aggressor nation Russia has caused destruction in Ukraine mostly with indirect fire strikes,” Pevkur stated.
Bolstering the Estonian Defence League
At the cabinet meeting, Pevkur announced initiatives to support the Estonian Defence League voluntary territorial combatants.
The government plans to conduct further training for the paramilitary organization and increase its personnel from 9,500 to 20,000 by 2024.
The effort builds on a decision last year, which allotted 30 million euros ($32 million) for the program.
Sustaining Territorial Defense
In the latest update, Estonia will shell out 132 million euros ($141 million) to procure additional load-carrying systems, night vision and thermal equipment, logistics, ammunition, and associated capabilities by the first half of 2023.
Meanwhile, 7 million euros ($7.5 million) will be disbursed to train warfighters this year. It will be funded with an additional 2.2 million euros ($2.3 million) for ammunition expenditures.
“Building the capabilities of the Defence League and increasing military territorial defence is one of the most important lessons learned from the war in Ukraine,” defense minister Pevkur said.