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World News

Estonia to buy US rocket artillery system in $200m deal


HELSINKI– Estonia, a NATO member and neighbor of Russia, is bolstering its defense capabilities by acquiring an advanced US rocket artillery system in the Baltic country’s largest-ever arms acquisition project , defense officials said on Saturday.

A deal signed Friday for the high-mobility artillery rocket system is worth more than $200 million and includes equipment such as ammunition and rockets as well as training.

The package includes HIMARS rockets with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers (43 to 186 miles), the Estonian Defense Investment Center said in a statement. Lockheed Martin Corp. should make the first deliveries in 2024.

“The HIMARS multiple rocket launchers are another important step in the development of Estonia’s defense capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Kaarel Mäesalu, head of the Estonian Defense Force’s capability development department. “This makes it possible to decisively influence the enemy even before coming into contact with our infantry units.

Estonia’s Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Lithuania, have or are in the process of acquiring their own HIMARS.

Washington supplied Ukraine with the rocket launchers during Russia’s invasion of the country. The Estonian Ministry of Defense said that HIMARS systems “helped destroy Russian military ammunition warehouses, transport nodes and command and control centers with extreme precision beyond the range of howitzers that ‘Ukraine uses’.

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