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Estonia To Upgrade Weak Air Defence System With New Missiles

Photo of successful first qualification firing of MBDA'S Aster 30 Samp/T System.

Tallinn (AFP) Aug 18, 2005
Estonia plans to upgrade its anti-aircraft defence system and has invited European company MBDA and its US rival Raytheon to bid for a 45-million-euro (55-million-dollar) contract to supply missiles, officials said on Thursday.

Estonian Defence Minister Jaak Joeruut said the two companies had been identified as suppliers of the short-range anti-aircraft missiles needed by the country.

"Estonia stands out among NATO member countries for its weak air defence capability," Joeruut told a news conference, adding that Estonia has only old, outdated Israeli missiles at present.

He continued: "The aim of the state procurement is to supply Estonia with a modern and mobile anti-aircraft system which could be integrated into the joint air defence system of the allied forces, should there be a need to use this system in the NATO context," he said.

"We have picked two companies which manufacture the type of systems we need, and these firms are MBDA Missile Systems and the Raytheon."

Joeruut said the 700-million kroon (45 million euros, 55 million dollars) tender would be announced at the end of the month and the successful bidder would be announced in the spring of 2006.

The new system should be in place by 2009, Joeruut said.

Estonia joined the NATO last year.

MBDA describes itself on its website as a "pan-European defence company with a single, unified management and operating structure" and "strong national footprints in France, Italy and the UK."

Raytheon is a global aerospace and defence equipment supplier, which has its headquarters in the northeastern US state of Massachusetts.

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UK Becomes First International Customer For LockMart's Guided MLRS Rockets
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