Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it had signed a new agreement with NATO member Estonia on Thursday to supply them with drones.
Three countries will be supplied with the IAI Rotem loitering munitions system, according to an IAI press release.
This follows an announcement in May that NATO member Estonia would purchase long-range cruise missiles from the IAI.
The IAI also signed separate contracts with three other NATO member states worth millions of dollars, under which it will supply them with IAI Rotem loitering munitions systems.
The battlefield-tested vertical take-off and landing mobile weapons system is intended for use by special forces and can also be used for intelligence testing and evaluation purposes.
The Rotem system is only one of the IAI’s loitering munitions systems, the others include but are not limited to the Harpy, the Harop, and the mini-Harpy which has been tested in various combat situations since 2019.
Estonian purchase of IAI drones
After the purchase, Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur commented on their utility: “Long-range loitering munitions are an important addition to the development of Estonia’s defense capability. The importance of indirect fire cannot be overestimated, as Russia has caused much of the destruction in Ukraine through indirect fire.”
“The introduction of this new capability allows us to attack the enemy from a longer distance. As a result, indirect fire becomes more layered and flexible, increasing the range of fire, which means that the defense forces can hit the enemy where it hurts,” he continued.
“Recent conflicts such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the ongoing war in Ukraine have demonstrated the high effectiveness of this type of offensive weapon, leading to the development of such systems by several countries, with new players expected to enter the market soon,” said Ramil Lipp, armament category manager of the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments.
Azerbaijan was reported to be using the IAI Harop loitering munition system during its 2021 war with Armenia over the Karabakh region.