Estonia and Latvia on 11 September signed an agreement for the acquisition of medium-range air defence systems IRIS-T SLM from the German company Diehl Defence at a meeting of the defence ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Germany near Nuremberg, Germany.
The nearly €400 million procurement is the largest defence contract in the history of Estonia so far. After the acquisition of the system, the security of Estonian and Latvian airspace will increase significantly, which ensures protection for people and civil and military infrastructure.
The IRIS-T SLM air defence system to be acquired has been designed to work against manned or unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles, guided weapon systems and certain types of ballistic missiles, spokespeople for the Centre for Defence Investment told BNS.
The system is capable of simultaneously affecting several targets and neutralising threats from a distance of up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) and an altitude of 20 kilometres (12.5 miles). The parts of the system are mobile and can be quickly relocated, as they are mounted on powerful trucks. One launcher of the system can carry up to eight missiles.
In addition to air defence systems, the Centre for Defence Investment is also procuring other supporting elements, including launchers, radars, fire control centres, missile, training and lifecycle equipment. In addition, the framework agreement provides the opportunity to acquire various modifications of air defence systems in the future, including systems with long-range capabilities.
Increasing the security of Estonia
“The development of Estonian national defence has reached a new milestone with the medium-range air defence agreement. This is a project of historical significance and unprecedented scope from the point of view of both Estonian military national defence and Estonian-Latvian defence cooperation, which will significantly increase the security of the people of Estonia,” the Estonian defence minister, Hanno Pevkur, said.
“Russia’s barbaric war in Ukraine has shown that air defence is critical to protecting the population, armed forces and critical infrastructure from air attacks.”
He added that the historical significance of the procurement for Germany was confirmed by the fact that German defence minister Boris Pistorius participated in the signing, which took place at the Diehl Defence development centre in Rothenbach near Nuremberg.
The first systems should be delivered to Estonia and achieve operational readiness by 2025.
Estonia and Latvia signed a letter of intent for the joint procurement of medium-range air defence systems at the NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022.