In a move towards strengthening their defence capabilities with greater economy, Estonia, Belgium, Cyprus, France, and Hungary have signed a co-operation agreement to purchase the Mistral short-range air defence missile systems through a joint procurement, allowing the countries to save costs and speed up delivery.

Under the agreement, France has been granted the authority to conduct joint procurement on behalf of all participating nations, with the expectation of reaching an agreement with the French company MBDA in the coming autumn.

“I am very pleased that we are co-operating with our strategic partner, France, to develop Estonia’s air defence capability, which has been demonstrated to be crucial due to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” said Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur, who signed the agreement on behalf of Estonia on 19 June in Paris.

“The participation of Belgium, Cyprus, and Hungary adds value to the cooperation agreement by enabling cost savings and faster delivery,” Pevkur added.

Pevkur went on to say that by jointly procuring from a European manufacturer the countries will also be able to apply for support from the European Union. “Our goal is to maximise defence capabilities for every euro invested in national defence.”

Mistral in Estonia’s defences

Mistral, manufactured by the French arms manufacturer MBDA, is an infrared homing surface-to-air missile system that operates on the fire-and-forget concept, with an effective engagement range of up to six kilometres against airborne threats. It is a versatile and compact weapon system that can be launched from a variety of platforms, including the ground, vehicles, ships, and helicopters. The system is used worldwide, employed by over 30 countries.

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By GlobalData

In a release from Estonia’s Ministry of Defence, Ramil Lipp, the strategic category manager for weapon systems and ammunition at the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment, explained that the Mistral short-range air defence system is an attractive purchase because it has gained widespread usage in Europe. This has enabled countries to provide mutual support in system utilisation and even cross-utilise stocks during times of crises.

Since 2009, the Estonian Defence Forces have been utilising the Mistral systems, which were initially ordered in 2007.

Estonia is currently expanding its air defence capabilities beyond short-range measures, with a focus on developing its medium-range capabilities. In May, Estonia has joined hands with Latvia to initiate talks with Diehl Defence, a prominent German defence industry firm, to secure a deal for the acquisition of the Iris-T SLM air defence system.