The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) demonstrated the capabilities of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) at the Tapa military base, which is set to enter into service with the EDF next year. While Estonia’s own HIMARS is due to arrive in the country in the next few years, the U.S. Army has already deployed a HIMARS unit to Estonia in order to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank. The newly deployed systems are to improve both NATO’s and Estonia’s defence capabilities. The “near-persistent” stationing of the U.S. troops and gear in Estonia is part of a “commitment to strengthening the collective defence and deterrence posture on NATO’s eastern flank”.
“The imminent deployment of HIMARS will significantly increase in Estonia’s defense posture and also have a strategic effect. The deployment of the HIMARS system to Estonia will boost the country’s military capabilities and also enable the EDF to conduct necessary training. The best place to train for the defense of Estonia, is in Estonia. For us, the Defense Forces, it is extremely important that our key allies in the form of US units know the terrain here. (It is also important that) our units are familiar with each other’s procedures so we can be ready to react quickly if necessary,” said Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) Lieutenant General Martin Herem.
Last December, the Estonian Center for Defense Investment (RKK) signed a contract with the US Defense Cooperation Agency (DSCA) for the procurement of HIMARS light multiple launch rocket systems. The package includes rockets with different capabilities, ranging from 70 to 300 kilometers. HIMARS systems are also being procured by Latvia and Lithuania. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the total value of the contract is worth over $200 million. In what is the largest weapons procurement deal Estonia has ever undertaken, a total of six HIMARS systems will be purchased, along with the requisite ammunition, training and logistics and maintenance equipment.
The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army and mounted on a standard U.S. Army M1140 truck frame. The M142 carries one pod with either six GMLRS rockets or one ATACMS missile on the U.S. Army’s new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) five-ton truck, and can launch the entire Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM). M142 ammunition pods are interchangeable with the M270 MLRS; however, it is able to carry only one pod rather than the standard two for the M270 and its variants. The launcher can be transported by Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft.