Estonia procures drones from IAI in historical deal

Estonia procures advanced long-range loitering munitions (LRLM) from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to enhance military capabilities against Russia

On May 2nd, 2023, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that they had signed a deal with Estonia for the procurement of advanced long-range loitering munitions, marking one of the most expensive defence procurement deals that Estonia has ever made. This deal is a result of market research that began in the spring of 2022, and the deliveries are expected to be completed by 2024. Although the announcement did not mention the value of the contract or the specific drone selected, Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur tweeted that the contract was worth nine figures and posed alongside IAI's Mini Harpy on the same day.

Based on this information and the estimated unit cost of the loitering munition, Shephard's Defence Insight calculates that Estonia has acquired 985 units of the platform in a contract worth €100mn ($113.04mn). This announcement comes slightly later than expected, as in February 2023, Hanno Pevkur mentioned that Estonia was set to procure loitering munitions to enhance its indirect fire capabilities in Q1 of 2023. At that time, Estonia's public broadcaster, EER, reported that the decision was made in light of Russia's aggression.

This procurement deal is significant for Estonia as it shows their commitment to enhancing their military capabilities to counter any potential threats from Russia. Loitering munitions are known for their ability to strike a target with high precision and cause significant damage. This type of weapon can be useful in asymmetric warfare, where the enemy may not have a clear line of sight or may be hiding in difficult-to-reach areas. Therefore, the acquisition of such advanced long-range loitering munitions will significantly improve Estonia's capabilities to deal with any potential threats.

Moreover, this procurement deal is also significant for Israel Aerospace Industries as it further establishes their position as a leading provider of advanced defence technologies globally. IAI has been successful in securing several significant contracts in recent years, including a US$777mn contract to supply the Indian Navy with Barak 8 missile defence systems. This Estonian contract is yet another feather in their cap, showcasing their expertise in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge defence technologies.

Estonia's procurement of advanced long-range loitering munitions is a significant development in the country's defence capabilities. It further highlights their commitment to strengthening their military capabilities in response to any potential threats from Russia. For Israel Aerospace Industries, this procurement deal is yet another testimony to their prowess in developing and manufacturing advanced defence technologies, securing their position as a leading global provider of such solutions.

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