The USA has approved the sale to Estonia of up to six multiple rocket launchers M142 HIMARS and related equipment. There have been rumors about its cost to the taxpayer of hundreds of millions but the contract is still being prepared and it is know that the US will meet part of the cost.
Former Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (RE) explained that negotiations with the Americans over the rocket launchers have been going on for some time and the USA is now offering Estonia the opportunity. But this does not mean that the precise cost and the contract are already decided.
“The USA is the party offering today the opportunity to buy them in this quantity but Estonia has not yet decided the volume of the purchase,” Laanet explained. The contract will be prepared in the near future, he said. “Its content will be the next step. But the most important aspect is that the three Baltic states will obtain the same capability,” he believes.
Lieutenant Colonel in reserve and MP Leo Kunnas (EKRE) explained that the idea of Estonia’s 500 million expenses for the weapons systems is erroneous. The rocket launchers would be purchased in cooperation with the Americans and the US would pay for most of the amount itself: “These are US-led cooperation projects and this is how their military aid projects work – the sum is an indicator but the production will come from their own industry," han sa. “All three Baltic states will probably receive six launchers each which will be largely paid by the US. The cost of the contract will also depend on how much ammunition will be procured,” Kunnas speculated.
Laanet said that Estonia’s share of financing would come from the state budget: “We have the funds allocated by the state budget strategy; there is no question about it,” he assured.
According to Laanet, the procurement of the multiple rocket launchers will significantly extend the range of Estonia’s countermeasures compared with that of the present. “Now we rely on the allies but then we shall increase our independent defense capability and can defend ourselves over a longer range. Hitting the enemy over that distance would make the enemy certainly consider whether attacking Estonia is a smart thing to do,” Laanet said.
HIMARS has two types of rockets, Kunnas added, explaining that this is a universal weapons system: “One set has six rockets which can hit targets over 70 kilometers. Unlike the Russian systems, these are precision missiles which can be guided. The other option is to launch one rocket with a range of 300 kilometers.”
By now, the USA has supplied to Ukraine more than ten HIMARS rocket launchers which allow the Ukrainians to strike at the Russian ammunition depots and command and control centers: “This is not enough to turn the course of the war but it will doubtlessly influence the freedom of action of the Ukrainian side and certainly has positive effect,” Kunnas said.
Operators of the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers
United Arab Emirates