The US Army and NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group have conducted a live-fire demonstration of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) at the Estonian Defence Force’s Central Training Area near Tapa.
The activity followed multinational training in Estonia to bolster the alliance’s presence in the Baltic.
Part of this was deploying additional US rotational forces to the country in December 2022.
At the exercise, personnel from the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment (3-27th FAR), and NATO counterparts facilitated a gunnery qualification of the HIMARS and showcased the system’s capabilities.
The 3-27th FAR soldiers have been operating for the battle group preparation in the country since June 2022.
Before the demonstration, the battalion and Estonian forces had conducted initial HIMARS training, including simulations in contested environments.
Lessons from these drills will be utilized for future HIMARS training, missions, and exercises with NATO partners.
“The training value for my crews participating in this exercise, like with my crew specifically, they’ve never been overseas before; this is their first time,” 3-27th FAR HIMARS Crew Section Chief Staff Sgt. Austin Quiñones explained.
“They get to see not only what it’s like to be overseas, but helping the allies as well, and seeing what they’re really doing this stuff for. [It’s] not just checking a box that we’re certified – this is real world stuff that we’re doing.”
Alongside heightened training for the S warfighters, Quiñones said the HIMARS training boosted their interoperability with the allies.
“It’s important to train with our allies, especially when we’re in their country,” Quiñones stated.
“If something were to happen, we need to be able to work together and efficiently. Even if something doesn’t happen, we’re building these bonds with them.”
“They can see that it’s not just our countries that are allies, we’re allies too, on a personal level.”
New HIMARS for Estonia
Estonia signed a $200-million contract in 2022 to purchase six HIMARS platforms from the US in response to the conflict in Eastern Europe.
The first tranche of the rocket systems is expected to arrive in Estonia by 2024.
The same year, Baltic neighbor Lithuania purchased eight HIMARS from the US at $495 million.