Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur and his Spanish counterpart Margarita Robles met on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers' meeting on Tuesday and agreed that Spain is to send its NASAMS air defense system to Estonia for four months from April.
Spain to send NASAMS air defense system to Estonia
Pevkur said that it is important that Estonia has the support of its allies until its own air defense systems are delivered.
«The eastern flank of NATO has gained a lot of muscle in the past year and I am pleased that, considering the need to fill in a critical gap in Estonia's medium-range air defense capability, we have arrived at an agreement that Spain is to send the NASAMS medium-range ground-based air defense system to Estonia for four months from April this year,» Pevkur said.
«At present, this is a temporary solution but we're also preparing a sustainable one. To this end, we have made a proposal together with Latvia and Lithuania to reach an agreement in NATO by the Vilnius summit regarding a rotational model for air defense functioning similarly to the Baltic air policing mission. Thus, I hope that subsequent rotations will also be possible in cooperation with the allies,» Pevkur said.
«It is also extremely important that thanks to Spain's NASAMS unit's deployment in Estonia, we will learn the strategic control of a medium-range air defense system. In addition, it will provide the Estonian defense forces and air force with the experience of integrating medium-range air defense with other defense systems,» Pevkur said.
The purpose of the NASAMS unit to be deployed in Estonia is the defense of the Amari Air Base as a strategic object. The unit will be deployed in Estonia on the orders of NATO's supreme allied commander Europe. A similar unit is also in Latvia and the two systems will be interlinked as part of NATO's air and missile defense on the eastern flank.
Estonia's own procurement of air defense systems is currently in its final stages and the goal is to arrive at a procurement contract before summer.