Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) and head of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) capacities development department Kaarel Maesalu said that the decision to give Estonia’s truck-towed howitzers to Ukraine did not harm the country defensive capacity.
“Naturally, we made these decisions in cooperation with the Estonian Defense Forces and its commander. It follows our own procurement plans. We have moved up and already taken delivery of K9 (Thunder) self-propelled artillery systems, with more to arrive this year,” Pevkur said on January 19 after it was communicated the government has decided to give Ukraine EUR 113 million worth of military aid.
The defense minister also pointed out that Estonia is in the process of procuring effective anti-aircraft munitions and that the area has allied indirect fire capabilities, such as U.S. and U.K. HIMARS and M270 MLRS systems and AS90 mobile artillery.
“We have prioritized making sure Estonia’s defensive capacity remains intact,” Pevkur said.
Col. Maesalu, who trained as an artilleryman, echoed the sentiment: “We have enough howitzers today, with intensive training in progress. Until year’s end, both battalions will have the necessary number of mobile howitzers. And based on the systems’ technical possibilities – which far exceed those of towed howitzers – we are already more capable today than we would be using the latter.”
Maesalu said that Estonia had 18 K9 Thunder mobile artillery systems today, with the final six arriving from South Korea later this year.
“We can equip both of our artillery battalions with mobile howitzers, so that both would have 12 twelve systems by the end of this year,” the colonel remarked.
Maesalu also pointed out allied indirect fire systems in Estonia.
“We must also not forget that we are a part of NATO and its defense plans, and that NATO can always bring more indirect fire and anti-aircraft capacity to the region based on the situation. In any case, we are not giving away military capacity by sending older weapons to Ukraine that would have been written off in the coming years as it is,” he said.
The EDF capability development chief added that Estonia’s old 122 and 155-millimeter Soviet and West German howitzers still have a few good years in them, more so as Estonia will also provide Ukraine with spare parts.
“They are the most use to Ukraine right now,” he emphasized.
The government has decided to surrender all of Estonia’s old towed howitzers to Ukraine. (ERR/Business World Magazine)