On 2 December, the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments signed a contract with the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency for the procurement of the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher systems, which is an important boost in the development of Estonia’s indirect fire capability.
The manufacturer of the weapons systems is Lockheed Martin; the total value of the contract is USD200 million – making it Estonia’s largest-ever arms procurement project.
As part of the contract, in addition to the weapon system, Estonia will also procure ammunition, communications solutions, as well as training, logistics and life-cycle solutions. The package includes rockets with different effects, ranging from 70 to 300 kilometres (43 to 186 miles).
“The HIMARS multiple rocket launchers are a new important step in the development of Estonia’s defence capabilities. This makes it possible to decisively influence the enemy even before coming into contact with our infantry units,” Lieutenant Colonel Kaarel Mäesalu, the head of the capability development department at the Estonian Defence Forces, said in a statement. “It is a standard system in NATO, which enables all-round cooperation with other NATO allies, and fits well into the overall NATO joint fire support network.”
Latvia and Lithuania also to purchase HIMARS
In addition to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will also procure the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system. The US has provided Ukraine with the same systems that have helped destroy Russian military ammunition warehouses, transport nodes and command and control centres with pinpoint accuracy beyond the range of the howitzers Ukraine has been using.
The US has supported various defence developments in Estonia with USD228 million in financial support for various procurement and infrastructure projects over the past five years. In the past, security assistance has been used to replenish stocks of large-calibre ammunition.
The first deliveries of the HIMARS system will take place in 2024. The Estonian Centre for Defence Investments, established in 2017, is a governmental agency for the acquisition of infrastructure and materials for the Estonian defence ministry.
The HIMARS was developed in the late 1990s for the US Army. The system carries one pod with either six GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS missile.