HELSINKI (AP) -- NATO member and Russia's neighbor Estonia is boosting its defense capabilities by acquiring an advanced U.S. rocket artillery system in the Baltic country's largest arms procurement project ever, defense officials said Saturday.
The 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 ranges of 70-300 kilometers (43-186 miles), the Estonian Center for Defense Investment said in a statement. Lockheed Martin Corp. is expected to make the first deliveries in 2024. Estonian officials didn't disclose the number of rocket launchers but local media outlets said the purchase consists of six HIMARS.
"The HIMARS multiple rocket launchers are a new important step in the development of Estonia's defense capabilities," Lt. Col. Kaarel Mäesalu, head of the capability development department at the Estonian Defense Forces said in a statement. "This makes it possible to decisively influence the enemy even before coming into contact with our infantry units."
Estonia's Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania either have or are currently in the process of acquiring their own HIMARS.
Washington has provided Ukraine with the rocket launchers during Russia's invasion of the country. The Estonian Defense Ministry said the HIMARS systems "have helped to destroy Russian military ammunition warehouses, transport nodes, and command and control centers with pinpoint accuracy beyond the range of the howitzers Ukraine has been using."