Estonia is set to order a “significant quantity” of the so-called loitering munitions, to be delivered in 2024. The defense ministry said the planned purchases are intended to approve military capabilities by increasing the distance of potential attacks.
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The NATO and European Union member said on February 8 it believed Russia still had the strength to exert “credible military pressure” on the Baltic region, where the security risk has risen for the medium and long-term.
The loitering munitions, also called “kamikaze drones”, cruise towards their target before plummeting at velocity and detonating on impact.
The purchase of an unspecified number, set to be one of the largest in Estonia’s history, is expected to be concluded this quarter. It is being made “in order to significantly increase [Estonian] indirect fire capability as a consequence of Russian aggression”, the defense ministry said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated on Thursday the United States was ready to defend the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania if required, and will keep its military presence in the region.