Estonia has signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to buy loitering munitions in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Considered one of Estonia’s most significant defense procurements, the contract will “significantly increase” the country’s indirect fire capabilities.
The munitions are expected to deliver an advantage over enemies from long distances, complementing Estonia’s existing anti-ship missiles, long-range artillery ammunition, and multiple-launch rocket systems.
Plans for the agreement were initially announced during an Estonian cabinet meeting in February.
Training will be provided along with the arrival of the first tranche in 2024.
Edge in Indirect Fire Weapons
The Estonian Defence Forces currently operate indirect fire weapons through self-propelled howitzer divisions and a combination of maneuver units.
In the next two years, additional long-range loitering munition and multiple rocket launcher units will be established in the service as the latest acquisition is delivered.
“The importance of indirect fire cannot be overestimated, as Russia has caused much of the destruction in Ukraine through indirect fire,” Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur said.
“Loitering munitions are particularly useful when users seek more flexibility and responsiveness in employing firepower to quickly spot the enemy and act decisively based on the information acquired by the weapon itself in real-time.” IAI CEO and President Boaz Levi added.
Obtaining Similar Weapons
Market research for the procurement began in 2022, and industry partners worldwide were reviewed.
Officials focused on obtaining long-range offensive weapons with high precision, wide-range simultaneous offensive capability, and powerful munitions.
“The market for long-range loitering munitions is currently turbulent. The future of this market will certainly involve intense competition, and the coming years will reveal where these systems will further evolve,” Estonian Centre for Defence Investment Armament Manager Ramil Lipp said.
“We have made orders for long-range weapons which we cannot disclose the exact specifications of, but in the future, we plan to acquire similar weapons with different technical capabilities and for firing at different ranges.”