Security

European and Estonian security

The right mix: how Estonia ensures privacy and access to e-services in the digital age

For the first time in history every nation in the world operates in an online capacity. But how does a government provide quality, comprehensive e-services on one hand, but on the other, ensure citizen information is protected and not misused for illicit purposes? The solution comes from the Republic of Estonia, argues Eric Jackson from the United States.

For the first time in history every nation in the world operates in an online capacity (UNDP E-Governance Survey, 2014). As governments seek greater efficiency and innovative solutions for citizens, they are increasingly embracing online services, or e-services, such as tax declarations, medical insurance, permits, prescription databases and hundreds more. However, what this requires is government being able to access sensitive personal information. Fear of “big brother” is not anything new, but in an era of unprecedented connectivity and ease of online surveillance, fears are justly amplified. So the problem becomes: how does a government provide quality, comprehensive e-services on one hand, but on the other, ensure citizen information is protected and not misused for illicit purposes? The solution comes from the Republic of Estonia.

The Estonian mix of esolutions

This Baltic nation of 1.3 million people may be small in population, but they have big ideas on how the government-to-citizen relationship (G2C) should work. Historically, Estonia lived under Soviet occupation for half a century. Based on this unfortunate period, the Estonian leadership understands that in order to implement e-services and have the population actively use them, trust must be built and maintained between the public sector and citizens.

Thus, Estonia created an accountable and accessible e-service environment by coordinating three areas: clear and established legal parameters for personal information privacy, an independent enforcement mechanism for these parameters and lastly, one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world. These factors contribute to Estonia ranking 15th for e-governance implementation out of 193 countries (UNDP E-Governance Survey, 2014) and 26th out of 175 countries for transparency. For nations in the infancy stages of creating e-service platforms, Estonia provides a model for nations looking to expand e-governance, or at the very least, a source of framework ideas to take into consideration.

The legislative context of data protection

Estonian personal data protection originates from the 1996 Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which was most recently updated in 2008. Although the PDPA has adapted over time to reflect changing technologies and practice, one central component has remained the same: consent. Sensitive personal information (biometric, ethnicity, sex life, trade union membership, state of health, for example) can only be opened by a government agency if the subject wilfully consents to its usage. To elaborate further, the PDPA does not consider “silence or inactivity” consent, and gives citizens the right to make consent “partial and conditional” (§12.1). By expanding the concept of consent, Estonian citizens are protected against their personal information being processed without permission. It also lets citizens flexibly choose which e-service fits their needs most.

To access e-services, an Estonian citizen uses their government issued ID card with a microchip containing encrypted personal information. This ID card is then inserted into an inexpensive card reader via computer (e-ID), or using mobile-ID (m-ID), a citizen can log in by smartphone. After this is completed, the citizen can choose from hundreds of e-services through the state online portal Eesti.ee.

When an Estonian citizen does consent to use of his or her personal information, there are seven important legal principles laid out in the PDPA a data processor must follow (§ 6.1-7):

1)  Principle of Legality – The personal data of an individual will only be collected in an honest and legal manner.

2) Principle of Purposefulness – Personal data will only be collected for achieving determined and lawful objectives and will not be processed in a manner not conforming to objectives of data processing.

3)  Principle of Minimalism – Personal data will only be collected to the extent necessary for  achieving determined purposes.

4)  Principle of Restricted Use – Personal data will be used for other purposes only with the consent of the data subject or with the permission of the competent authority.

5)  Principle of High Quality of Data – Personal data will be up-to-date, complete and necessary for the achievement of the purpose of data processing.

6)  Principle of Security – Security measures will be applied in order to protect personal data from involuntary or unauthorized processing, disclosure or destruction.

7)  Principle of Individual Participation – The data subject will be notified of data collected concerning them. Furthermore, the data subject will be granted access to data concerning them and the data subject has the right to demand the correction of inaccurate or misleading data.

The positive effects of the PDPA

Under these seven principles, data processors are legally obligated to follow proportionality; the means used to collect and process data have to be in proportion to the end objective. If a citizen submits personal financial data for tax declaration, that information can only be processed by the Estonian Tax and Custom Board and only used for that specific purpose. Additionally, every data processor is aware of the fact that a citizen from a home computer or mobile phone can observe if there was unlawful access to their personal information. By logging in with e-ID or m-ID, an Estonian citizen can see who is accessing their personal information and what kind of personal information is being accessed. They can even prohibit third parties from using their data for consumer habit research and direct marketing. In the words of Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, this protects citizens not only from “big brother” (like intelligence agencies), but “little sister” (companies who have your information and are willing to sell it to others).

Ultimately, it is the citizen who controls their information; not the government institution sponsoring the e-service. Therefore, the relationship between processor-citizen (or government agency to citizen) has built-in transparency, and when there is transparency, there is a greater amount of trust in the system. But as always, the success of legislation is contingent upon how well it is enforced. This is where an integral organisation, the Data Protection Inspectorate, assumes a critical role.

How the DPI safeguards citizens

As an independent and multifunctional organisation, the Data Protection Inspectorate (DPI) provides legal enforcement for upholding a citizen’s right to data privacy. For instance, the DPI is both an ombudsman and preliminary court. This means it has the power to make legally binding decisions on whether the PDPA has been violated. It also serves as an outlet for citizens to voice their concerns about the nature of access to their information. In the area of transparency, the DPI can do on-site auditing of public sector institutions and apply misdemeanour fines or even file criminal charges if there is illegal access of citizen data. What the DPI ensures is citizens have a legitimate and impartial outlet to lodge formal complaints against public sector institutions who are not upholding Estonia’s PDPA. Most nations in the EU with data protection laws also have a quasi-independent ombudsman, but the actual enforcement of these laws varies between countries, especially former republics of the Soviet Union.

Based on data, the DPI empowers citizens in the government to citizen relationship: in 2013, the DPI processed 1,370 requests for explanations and information, while receiving 550 complaints and challenges to public sector actors not complying with Estonia’s freedom of information laws or the PDPA. The top priority of the DPI is facilitating inquiries into suspicious uses of personal information and by helping constituents directly confront public sector actors through proper legal channels, the DPI is cultivating trust in public institutions and the e-services provided by them.

In a 2013 Eurobarometer study, the level of trust for governmental institutions in Estonia grew six percentage points to 44%, compared with an EU average of 27%. Trust in municipalities also grew to 60% in Estonia, compared with the EU average of 46%. From a United States perspective, a recent Pew survey showed 80% of Americans believe government surveillance should be a major cause for concern. The evidence speaks for itself when measuring Estonia’s level of trust compared with other EU countries and the United States, but there is one other factor that has made the proliferation of e-government services successful in Estonia: internet accessibility.

Enabling access to the internet

Reducing the “digital divide” by increasing access to the Internet and technological literacy should be a cornerstone for any nation wishing to expand e-governance capability. It would seem obvious to most: without Internet accessibility there can be no demand for e-governance. But, as seen in Estonia, working with the private sector to facilitate penetration in internet markets can transform an unconnected society into an e-society. In 2001, 32% of Estonians consistently used the internet. Today, that number has grown to 82.4%, with over 1,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots currently, compared with 460 in August of 2002. With more inclusion comes more demand for the convenience of using e-services and in Estonia, this has become ingrained in the culture of the information communication technology (ICT) community.

The catalyst for Estonian internet connectivity is the emphasis of promoting public-private partnerships. One prime example is the 2010, “Come Along!” campaign, initiated for improving internet literacy free of charge with training and informational sessions targeting 100,000 citizens (in both the Estonian and Russian language). Involving private Estonian telecommunication companies, banks and public sector actors like the Look@World foundation, the concerted effort established 35 computer clubs throughout Estonia for educating citizens who may be disproportionately disengaged from using technology. Not only does this boost the economic prospects of citizens, it makes them more inclined to use e-services by enhancing familiarity with how the internet works and mitigating the fears that come with using new technology. Programs like “Come Along!” can be an example in other countries that are willing to devote an adequate amount of resources to increasing internet accessibility and technology education in cooperation with the private sector.

Reflecting on Estonia’s e-progress

It is remarkable how Estonia’s technical infrastructure and e-services have flourished since regaining independence in 1991. Even more impressive is Estonia’s recognition there has to be complementary legal frameworks protecting privacy in order to promote the usage of e-services. While no system can attain the abstraction of “perfection”, Estonia at least has mechanisms in place where e-services are not viewed as a conduit for political leverage or illegal surveillance. As more countries provide e-services, the issue of online privacy will continue to be a leading question for constituents wary of technological advances connected to government institutions. While each nation has its own cultural and political context in decision-making, looking at the Estonian model of siding with citizens’ right to privacy over state interest will only be beneficial for the growth and trust of e-governance.

Five remarkable quotes about Estonia from Barack Obama

President Barack Obama came to visit Estonia on 3 September and reaffirmed the American security commitment. Estonian World picked five of the most remarkable quotes Obama said in Tallinn.

From the security context, one of the most important events for Estonia in 2014 was the promise given by the US to defend the country according to the NATO collective defence article. President Barack Obama came to visit Estonia on 3 September and reaffirmed the American commitment in a much-anticipated public speech. Estonian World picked five of the most remarkable quotes Obama said in Tallinn.

1. “The defence of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defence of Berlin and Paris and London.”

2. “We’ll be here for Estonia. We will be here for Latvia. We will be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again.”

3. “Estonia is one of the great success stories among the nations that reclaimed their independence after the Cold War. You’ve built a vibrant democracy and new prosperity, and you’ve become a model for how citizens can interact with their government in the 21st century, something President Ilves has championed. With their digital IDs, Estonians can use their smart phones to get just about anything done online – from their children’s grades to their health records. I should have called the Estonians when we were setting up our health-care website.”

4. “Here in Estonia, we see the success of free markets, integration with Europe, taking on tough reforms. You’ve become one of the most wired countries on Earth, a global leader in e-government and high-tech start-ups. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Estonian people has been unleashed. And your innovations, like Skype, are transforming the world.”

5. “I want to commend Estonia for being such a strong leader beyond NATO. Whether it’s contributing forces to the EU mission in the Central African Republic or supporting relief efforts for the Syrian people, helping nations like Tunisia in their own transition to democracy or standing up for Internet freedom and human rights, this nation of 1.3 million people, as we say, truly punches above its weight. The world is better for it, and it’s yet another reason why the United States will always be proud to stand with our ally, Estonia.”

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Cover: Barack Obama delivering his speech at Nordea Concert Hall in Tallinn, Estonia on 3 September 2014. Credit: Rauno Volmar/Delfi.

PICTURES: The year that brought US troops into Estonia

This year brought US troops into Estonia, possibly for long term. Estonian World takes a look back at the US presence in Estonia in 2014.

In the beginning of the year, Estonian Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu indicated in a speech given at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, that a permanent American base in Estonia would be the best security guarantee for the country. He was criticised  for his words at home by the politicians of the Social Democrat Party, as well as by the former Chief of Defence, Ants Laaneots, now planning to run for parliament for the Reform Party. Opponents said that by stationing US troops in Estonia, it would send out a “hostile signal” to Russia, and that Reinsalu had been “provocative”.

Less than two months later, Russia invaded Crimea. The security situation in the region had changed and no one would anymore object to the idea of having allied boots on the ground in Estonia. The country asked its NATO allies for security assurances and received them.

On 6 March, the US sent six F-15 fighter jets to step up NATO’s air policing over the Baltic states, based at the Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania. On 8 March, US President Barack Obama spoke with his counterparts in the Baltic states and reaffirmed the American commitment to defend the Baltic states under the NATO collective defence article.

F-15 at Amari

In late April, 150 soldiers from the US Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team arrived in Estonia. Originally destined for bilateral infantry exercises, the growing concerns about the Russian Federation’s behaviour brought a decision to rotate the US troops in Estonia for as long as necessary. The permanent presence of American forces on the Estonian soil became a reality.

Photo by Rene Riisalu I

On 30 April, NATO opened its second air base in the Baltics, at Ämari in Estonia, hosting four Danish F-16 jets.

On 3 September, Barack Obama visited Tallinn, ahead of the NATO Summit in Wales. The US President reiterated that “the defence of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defence of Berlin and Paris and London”.

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“We’ll be here for Estonia. We will be here for Latvia. We will be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again,” he said.

In October, 150 soldiers from the US Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division replaced the paratroopers of US Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade in Estonia. The new troops arrived also with infantry vehicles.

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The same month, the US State Department approved the sale of the Javelin anti-tank missile system to Estonia and the deal to buy 80 systems was signed in November.

F-15 taking off from Amari

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Credit: Estonian Defence Forces.

Estonia tests a virtual data embassy with Microsoft

Last spring, Estonia’s IT leaders proposed an ambitious plan for the country: Estonia should be moved into the cloud, which would make occupying the country meaningless. This week, the country tested the idea with Microsoft.

According to the ambitious plan, suggested by a number of Estonian IT leaders, the state could move its critical information systems and databases into a state cloud with supporting “data embassies” all over the world. The concept suggests storing the data at Estonian embassies in friendly foreign countries as critical data and information systems need to be located within the country’s borders.

This week, the Estonian Centre of Registers and Information Systems (RIK), the justice ministry, the ministry of economic affairs and Microsoft tested the idea by hosting the website of the Electronic State Gazette of Estonia in a virtual data embassy, meaning in the international cloud service.

The director of RIK, Mehis Sihvart, specified that despite the fact the Electronic State Gazette only includes public information, it is nevertheless important to protect it from potential cyber-attacks, to ensure continuous access to legal information for the citizens and maintain the country’s international reputation.

“The Ministry of Justice of Estonia must ensure access to legal order at all times. The use of an international cloud service increases the capacity to resist cyber-attacks and enhances the reliability of information systems,” Sihvart said.

Taavi Kotka, Deputy Secretary General at the ministry of economic affairs, explained that the concept foresees the availability of services necessary for the functioning of the state and the digital continuity of key registers be maintained regardless of a crisis situation.

“Estonia depends on digital solutions. It is one of our great strengths but also a challenge – it is no longer possible to move back to paper era in several important fields. Physical and virtual data embassies help ensure the digital continuity of the country,” Kotka said.

Kotka emphasised that during the test, international cloud services were only used to keep public data like that of the Electronic State Gazette. Restricted data was not moved to the virtual data embassy in the framework of the research project.

Microsoft Azure cloud was used and the full functionality of the Electronic State Gazette, including the publication of and search for legal acts, when in the cloud, was tested.

A report describing the results and conclusions drawn will be made publicly available at the beginning of 2015.

Angela Merkel: Baltic states will be protected from Russia

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has reiterated intention to protect Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from Russia’s aggression if necessary.

In an interview to German newspaper Die Welt’s Sunday edition, Merkel reiterated intention to give three Baltic states military assistance in case they are threatened by Russia.

“The question of war in the Baltic states does not arise. Nevertheless, Article 5 of the NATO treaty means the support obligation for all alliance partners,” Merkel said.

“That’s why we participate, for example, in the Baltic Air Policing, create new rapid reaction forces, and work in military alliance together,” she added.

Luftwaffe Eurofighter Typhoons

Germany is currently responsible of supporting the Baltic Air Policing mission from the Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Four Luftwaffe Eurofighter Typhoon jets patrol the skies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in coordination with the NATO fighter jets already stationed in Lithuania.

In August, Merkel confirmed during her visit to Latvia that the German government understanded the security concerns of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.

“Germany is ready to play its part to fulfil the understandable and warranted need for protection for the people in Latvia and other Baltic states,“ Merkel said in Riga.

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Cover: Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting in Berlin, spring 2014. Credit: Die Bundeskanzlerin.

Estonia buys 44 combat vehicles from the Netherlands

The Estonian government has decided to buy 44 CV90 infantry vehicles for the Estonian Defence Forces from the Netherlands, in what is the largest defence procurement project ever for the country, at USD 171 million.

Previously, the largest Estonian defence procurement projects were the purchase of MBDA-made Mistral missiles for about USD 84.5 million in 2009, and three Sandown-class minehunter vessels from the UK’s Royal Navy for about USD 64 million in 2007.

“The infantry vehicles will take the Estonian defence ability to a new level,” Defence Minister Sven Mikser said.

The CV90s will enter the service from 2016 and are expected to remain in use for at least 20 years. The vehicles have been used by the Dutch, but are relatively new.

The CV90 infantry vehicles are produced since 1993 by Sweden-based BAE Systems Hägglunds AB and they’re in service with the Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swiss, Finnish and Swedish defence forces. It has also seen service in Afghanistan.

In a related development, Dutch troops will take part in the next Estonian Independence Day parade and hold joint exercises with the Scouts Battalion.

Mikser said the Netherlands had a clear desire to further strengthen defence cooperation with Estonia. Among other things, the Netherlands is contributing to Baltic Air Policing.

The Estonian-Dutch defence cooperation has mainly been focused on procurement. Since 2004, Estonia has acquired over 1,100 lightly used and well-maintained trucks and SUVs, some 500 trailers and staff containers and 81 SISU XA-188 armoured personnel carriers.

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Cover photo: CV90 in the Swedish service.

Patrik Maldre: Citizen’s Day – social cohesion is key for national security

26 November is celebrated in Estonia as Citizen’s Day. It commemorates the date of the signing into effect of the first Estonian citizenship law in 1918, and honours all Estonian citizens as well as those who are aspiring to become citizens, regardless of ethnicity. It is also a day that encourages reflection on the relationship between civic pride and national security.

The successfulness of a country – economically, politically and in terms of security – is in many ways determined by the relationship between its residents and the government. If the social contract between the society and the state is respected and strengthened then the country and its people are likely to prosper and achieve greater security. In states that have managed to achieve economic development and considerable resilience, all social groups find it in their interest to work hard, uphold the legal framework, and cooperate to ensure that their rights are respected.

Historically as well as today, however, ethnic tensions and conflict are one of the most common causes of state failure, internal and international conflict, and economic stagnation. As a multiethnic country with an open economy and an open society, Estonia also needs to constantly focus on managing and overcoming ethnic tensions as well as encouraging civic nationalism.

In Estonia, as in most countries, the foundation for implementing that social contract is the constitution and the government institutions, personal freedoms and civic duties that it creates and/or prescribes. Judging by, among other things, Estonia’s considerable economic growth, advances in transparency and anti-corruption, positions on international ratings of press and Internet freedom, and fulfilment of Euro-Atlantic integration over the course of the last quarter-century since regaining independence, progress has been substantial. However, these constant improvements will always be on fragile footing if integration and social cohesion are not ensured.

The evidence of ethnic tensions and conflict contributing to disorder, human rights violations and significant decline in quality of life can be seen around the world. In Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and the civil war in the country’s east show how ethnic tensions can be stoked and enflamed both from within and by external actors. In the Middle East, the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS) was enabled by the Sunni-Shia-Kurdish-Alawite-Turkish divides. Further away in Myanmar, historic Buddhist-Rohingya enmity and recent bloodshed is inhibiting that country’s democratic transition. As the events of the Bronze Soldier Crisis of 2007 showed, Estonia is also not immune to the potential pitfall of ethnic conflict.

Fortunately, Estonia has taken this question into consideration in its internal and international security doctrines. The 2010 National Security Concept commits Estonia to pursuing an “integrated approach, where the foreign policy, defence policy and internal security policy, as well as cohesion and resilience of the society“ are employed in a complementary manner to ensure security. Furthermore, despite the demographic changes that occurred during the period of Soviet occupation, Estonia has constantly worked to enable individuals living in Estonia to pursue and attain citizenship. After independence in 1992, 68% of residents in Estonia were citizens and 32% had undetermined citizenship. By 2003, the citizenship amount had increased to 81% and by 2014 to 84%, with the corresponding number of persons of undetermined citizenship decreasing to 12% and 6,5%, respectively.

Formal policy documents and national statistics, however, tell only part of the story. Integration has been far from an easy process, but success stories can be found in fields such as sports, politics, Defence Forces, and in civil society initiatives. These often come to our attention in the form of inspiring individuals, such as footballer Konstantin Vassiljev winning “Citizen of the Year” in 2011, social democrat Jevgeni Ossinovski becoming the first non-ethnic-Estonian cabinet minister, or Lieutenant Vladimir Kolotõgin being awarded the Citizen’s Day medal in 2013 for dedication to furthering national defence awareness in Eastern Estonia.

My own experience confirms that integration is at work on the micro level as well. My colleagues at the Foreign Ministry, whose mother tongue is not Estonian, are valued and successful diplomats. My ethnic Russian friends on our fourth division amateur football team get along well with both the Estonians and players from other countries. I still have very positive memories of the non-ethnic-Estonian compatriots with whom I served in the mandatory military service.

Yet the key will always lie with the right combination of government policy and social attitudes. Estonia, as a small nation with a large, aggressive, revisionist neighbour must do it all it can to consolidate its society and attempt to eliminate the prospect of ethnic tension or conflict. This involves not only domestic policies such as financial commitments for equitable regional development but also accepting and tolerant individual behaviour towards other residents of different backgrounds or social groups. Only with a shared understanding of the rights and duties prescribed by the constitution can we, as citizens and residents of Estonia, move together toward a more fair, more prosperous and more secure future.

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The opinions in this article are those of the author.

Estonia invests €40M in the American Javelin anti-tank missile system

Estonia’s Defence Minister Sven Mikser has signed a contract to buy 80 Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the United States, in a deal worth €40 million.

It is expected that the proposed sale will improve Estonia’s capability to meet current and future threats and provide greater security to the country.

Mikser said in October that the US understands that in the new security situation, Estonia must increase deterrence of potential aggressors. “With these new anti-tank missile systems, we will increase our Defence Forces’ fighting capability,” he said.

Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The system takes a top-attack flight profile against armoured vehicles (attacking the top armour, which is generally thinner), but can also take a direct-attack mode for use against buildings. This missile also has the ability to engage helicopters in the direct attack mode.

Javelin courtesy of ZStoler

“Due to the changed security circumstances, we decided to proceed with the procurement as soon as possible,” Mikser said, adding that thanks to the allied support of the United States, things are moving ahead quickly and Estonia should receive the systems in 2015.

“The sale will not only deepen our cooperation as NATO allies, but will also enhance greatly Estonia’s defence capability,” the US Ambassador to Tallinn, Jeffery D. Levine said.

Javelin is in use with the American forces since the 1990s and has been used in Iraq War, as well as in Afghanistan. In addition to the US, Israel, Taiwan, the UK, and Australia also use the system.

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Cover: An official inspecting the Javelin missile system at the signing of the contract at the Ministry of Defence in Tallinn.

NATO extends enhanced Baltic air policing

NATO will continue its bulked-up Baltic air policing, sending a fresh rotation of fighters to both Estonia and Lithuania, after the current rotations end in early 2015, alliance officials announced.

“Today’s Baltic air policing mission requires both high readiness and interoperability,” NATO air command boss, US Air Force General Frank Gorenc said.

Russian aggression in Ukraine prompted NATO to augment its alert mission with additional fighters in Lithuania and several new alert bases back in April. A detachment of Portuguese F-16s, buttressed by Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s, has been intercepting Russian aircraft from Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, since September.

German fighters are covering allied airspace from Ämari Air Base, Estonia, and Dutch F-16s are deployed to a third alert location at Malbork AB, Poland, according to allied officials.

The US to sell Javelin anti-tank missile system to Estonia

The US State Department has approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missile system to Estonia, the sale next goes before Congress for approval.

The sale of the Javelin anti-tank missile system will strengthen the security of Estonia as an ally of the United States and is in the interests of the US, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

“The proposed sale will improve Estonia’s capability to meet current and future threats and provide greater security for its critical infrastructure,” the statement adds.

Estonia’s Defence Minister Sven Mikser said the US understands that in the new security situation, Estonia must increase deterrence of potential aggressors. “With these new anti-tank missile systems, we will increase our Defence Forces’ fighting capability,” he pointed out. “We hope to conclude the agreement before the year is out and ensure that the weapons systems reach Estonia as fast as possible.”

Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The system takes a top-attack flight profile against armored vehicles (attacking the top armor, which is generally thinner), but can also take a direct-attack mode for use against buildings. This missile also has the ability to engage helicopters in the direct attack mode.

The purchase of the Javelins is in line with the national defence development plan for 2013-2022, which calls for reinforcing the Defence Forces’ anti-tank capability and the purchase of third-generation anti-tank missile systems.

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Cover photo: US Army unit firing Javelin, courtesy of ZStoler/Wikimedia Commons.

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