Visiting Diehl Defence in Röthenbach (Germany), the Estonian and Latvian Ministers of Defence, Hanno Pevkur and Ināra Mūrniece, have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the German Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, on their future participation in the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI).
Furthermore, on the same occasion, both Estonia and Latvia signed a framework agreement with Diehl Defence for the procurement of IRIS-T SLM medium range ground-based air defence systems. For both Baltic countries, it is the biggest defence investment since their independence more than 30 years ago.
The procurement process for medium range ground-based air defence systems is led by the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments (ECDI). Magnus-Valdemar Saar, the Director General of ECDI, stated: “The procurement was conducted at a record pace in a fiercely competitive environment, allowing us to deliver the required capability with the shortest possible lead time and at a very affordable price. This process involved Estonian and Latvian organizations joining forces in a complex requirements development, rigorous evaluations, and negotiations. It must now be followed by meticulous project management to ensure the first systems are delivered and operational in 2025."
ESSI is a project aiming for the establishment of an integrated ground-based European air defence, originally initiated by Germany in August 2022. By now, 19 European states have declared their intention to join the project, led by 17 NATO countries, including Austria and Switzerland. During today’s ceremony, Estonia and Latvia became the first ESSI nations after Germany to sign for IRIS-T SLM systems with Diehl Defence.
Boris Pistorius, the German Minister of Defence, emphasized the importance of ESSI and ground-based air defence for strengthening Europe and the NATO alliance, and expressed his satisfaction that Germany will receive IRIS-T SLM systems as from 2024 on for enhancing its national defence capabilities.
The signatures follow shortly after the invitation of the German Chief of Air Force, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, to his ESSI colleagues to visit the new “European Air Defence Academy” in Todendorf, Germany, which took place on September 5. The academy offers joint and combined training possibilities for IRIS-T SLM under the ESSI umbrella.
Diehl Defence is a keen supporter of ESSI and will be ready to supply any of its ground-based air defence systems for that purpose as the involved nations deem appropriate. Within the Diehl Defence product range, IRIS-T SLM is designed for the countering of threats posed by enemy aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones at a range of up to 40 km and an altitude of up to 20 km. An IRIS-T SLM fire unit consists of the components missile launcher, radar and tactical operations center. It is supplemented by support elements such as workshop, spare parts and reloading vehicles. The system is characterized by its high tactical mobility, deployability of the missile launchers and multiple target engagement with low personnel requirements.
The IRIS-T SLM system convinces with its excellent performance in operational use in Ukraine. According to the customer, the system achieved a close to 100 percent hit rate even during waves of attack with more than 12 targets.