Estonia and the U.S. sign HIMARS contract

On Friday, December 2, 2022 in Washington DC, Magnus-Valdemar Saar, Director General of the Estonian Centre for Defense Investments (ECDI) and James A. Hursch, Director of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) signed the contact for the procurement of the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher systems. The manufacturer of the HIMARS weapon system is Lockheed Martin, the total value of the contract is more than 200 million dollars.

‘In order to achieve Estonia’s defense objectives, we are daily engaged in the renewal of the armaments and ammunition of our Defence Forces. We are pleased that, in cooperation with our allies, we are able to ensure that the operational capabilities of the new multiple rocket launchers are compatible with those of the US and other allies,’ Magnus-Valdemar Saar, Director General of the ECDI, noted.

This is 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,’  Ramil Lipp, the Armament Director of the ECDI, added.

“I see a lot of understanding for the joint action necessary to boost regional security in Europe in the current Congress as well as in the next one. It is understood that Estonia and the United States are pulling it together strengthen transatlantic security as a whole,” Estonian Ambassador to the U.S. Kristjan Prikk said.

‘The HIMARS multiple rocket launchers are a new important step in the development of Estonia’s defense capabilities. This allows us to have a strong impact on the enemy prior to direct contact with our infantry units. It is a standard system in NATO enabling full interoperability with other NATO Allies, and it fits well into the overall NATO joint fire support network,” said LtCol Kaarel Mäesalu, head of the capability development department, Headquarters of the Estonian Defense Forces.

In addition to Estonia, the Baltic countries Latvia and Lithuania will also procure the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system. The U.S. has provided Ukraine with HIMARS multiple rocket launcher systems to fight against Russian aggression by taking down Russian military ammunition warehouses, transport nodes, and command and control centres with pinpoint accuracy beyond the range of the howitzers Ukraine has been using before.

The funding is part of a massive security package by the U.S. to strengthen the defense capacity of Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flank. Over the past five years, the U.S. has supported development of Estonian defense capabilities with 228 million dollars towards various procurement and infrastructure projects. Previously, the U.S. security assistance has been used to replenish stocks of Estonian Defence Forces large calibre ammunition.

The first deliveries of HIMARS to Estonia will take place in 2024.