Estonia has signed a contract to buy another batch of Mistral M3 air defense missiles from the French manufacturer MBDA France. The contract has a value of € 50 million and includes both missiles and training equipment. The contract includes an option to buy additional missiles for up to € 100 million. That reports ERR.
Mistral is a man portable very short range air defense missile. It has a range up to 6 kilometers and an altitude up to 3,000 meters. The weight of the man portable system is just below 20 kilograms.
Air defense is a weak spot in the Estonian defense. The country lacks medium or long range systems, and they don’t have any fighter aircraft. So the Mistral missiles play an important role in Estonia’s efforts to create its own air defense deterrent. With these missiles the country is able to at least complicate an adversary’s access to Estonian air space.
The man portable design fits nicely into Estonia’s defense concept where it is expected that a war can quickly turn into a guerrilla resistance. With a number of mistral launchers distributed in Estonia’s large forests, low altitude air operations would be a dangerous undertaking.
Estonia first ordered Mistral M2 missiles in 2007, and deliveries began in 2009. In 2010 they also acquired 25 additional launchers from Belgium. In 2015, Estonia signed a € 23.8 million contract for new Mistral M3 missiles which have an improved accuracy and a longer lifespan. These missiles are delivered from 2015 to 2019.
The newest contract boosts the number of available missiles for Estonia. This has been a wish for Estonia for some time. Announcing the new contract, colonel Rauno Sirk of the Estonian Centre for Defense Investment said that “this acquisition of ammunition is one of our top priorities and critical defence investments along with the soon-to-be-completed procurement of automatic rifles and K9 Thunder howitzers”.
Deliveries of the new missiles will begin in 2020.
In somewhat related news, MBDA also announced that they are working with the Estonian company Milrem Robotics to create an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) specially designed for anti-tank purposes. MBDA will provide the turret, while Milrem Robotics will use their THeMIS tracked vehicle.