Milrem Robotics, an Estonian manufacturer of unmanned ground vehicles, is proposing that Estonia order new armoured vehicles for its defence forces from a local consortium, instead of a Finnish producer, Patria.
Milrem Robotics announced the proposal on its Facebook page on 2 April.
“Together with other Estonian defence industry companies, we proposed that Estonia could order new armoured vehicles for the Defence Forces from home, instead of Finland. In this way, we keep jobs in Estonia and create long-term value for the state and people,” the company said.
“Estonian companies employ international level top specialists and engineers with experience in the defence industry. Our companies have experience in the technologically complex solutions and as the main contractors,” it added. In addition to Milrem, 14 other Estonia-based companies are ready to join the consortium developing the new vehicle.
Estonia planning to procure up to 300 armoured vehicles
The Estonian ministry of defence is planning to procure up to 300 new armoured vehicles for the country’s defence forces in the next 10 years. In December 2019, Estonia, Latvia and Finland signed a letter of intent to begin consultations for acquiring armoured vehicles within the framework of trilateral defence cooperation.
It was planned that the Finnish company, Patria, would manufacture the new vehicles. However, the Estonian defence companies are now arguing that the vehicles should be made domestically, leaving the lion’s share of the up to €400-million investment in Estonia. Tarmo Ränisoo, the CEO of the Estonian Defence Industry Association, told the daily newspaper, Postimees, that Estonia “must be more ambitious and see a greater opportunity for the local industry”.
Companies are ready
Ränisoo said that given today’s situation, where many economic sectors important to Estonia have essentially closed down due to the spread of the coronavirus and are facing a major economic downturn, the “country must first and foremost boost the sectors and companies that can create long-term value for the country” – economically as well as for national defence. “Industrial capabilities that do not exist in peacetime, will never be available in times of crisis or war either. This is definitely a lesson for everyone today about the current crisis,” Ränisoo told Postimees.
According to the Estonian Defence Industry Association, there are two possibilities on how to make the vehicles in Estonia. The first option is to acquire a license from Patria Finland to assemble the vehicles in Estonia and design the necessary modifications. If that solution is too expensive, the local consortium is ready to develop a completely new vehicle, based on Estonia’s needs.
Cover: An illustration of the armoured vehicle by Milrem Robotics.