Estonia Signs Polish Piorun MANPADS Procurement Contract

Photo. Maciej Nędzyński/CO MON

An agreement on delivery of the Piorun MANPADS to Estonia has been signed at the Mesko S.A. facility, belonging to the PGZ Group. has been the first outlet to have informed of the conclusion of that agreement.

Based on the agreement, Mesko S.A. is obliged to deliver 300 systems, along with 100 trigger mechanisms for the Piorun system. As of now, no contract value has been listed. The deliveries would be scattered across a timeline of three years, and they would be initiated as of next year.

This would make Estonia the third foreign user of the Piorun MANPADS. The United States and Ukraine also have the Piorun missiles in their inventory. The aforesaid MANPADS has been a part of the military aid package sent to Ukraine.

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Magnus Valdemar Saar signed the deal on behalf of the Estonians - he is the Director General at the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment. The management board of the company, including President of the Management Board Elżbieta Śreniawska, member of the board Przemysław Kowalczuk, and member of the board Marcin Ożóg signed the deal on behalf of Poland.

Piorun MANPADS has been designed for neutralizing helicopters, fixed-wing assets, UAVs, and cruise missiles. The missile features a proximity fuse that makes it possible to hit the target in the event of a near miss.

Extra daytime sight, as well as a thermal imaging sight, have also been used - allowing the operator to remain lethal at night. The system features a new launch system that offers mode selection (pursuit/head-on engagement), target type selection, weather conditions selection, and also the IFF capacity. The launch system works in conjunction with the optical and thermal imaging sights. It also features the capacity to use a launch authorization key.

Piorun can be used against air threats at a distance ranging from 400 meters, up to 6.5 kilometers, flying at altitudes ranging from 10 meters to 4 kilometers. It offers high resilience to passive and active jamming The experiences gathered in Ukraine do confirm the combat capabilities of this system - there, systems as such were used to act against Su-25 or Su-34 fixed-wing assets, Mi-24/35/Ka-52 helicopters, and Orlan-10 UAVs - the latter platform is a challenging target that also poses a major threat, as it acts as means to coordinate the Russian artillery fires.

The contract on the Estonian delivery is a significant export success for Mesko. This year an annex has been signed, concerning the previous agreement on the delivery of Piorun missiles for the Polish military, regarding 3.5 thousand missiles, and 600 launch mechanisms in total. The amount associated with the aforesaid document is as high as PLN 3.5 bn. (gross). Mariusz Błaszczak, head of the Polish MoD, highlighted that deliveries of Piorun for export users will not affect the deliveries for the Polish Armed Forces.

Piorun would be the first type of MANPADS in the inventory of the Estonian Armed Forces. So far the Estonian GBAD assets were based around a backbone formed by the Mistral-2/3 VSHORAD systems, a bit heavier than Piorun MANPADS, without an ability to be shoulder-fired. Interestingly, the Estonian military also has a certain number of 23 mm ZU-23-2 AAA guns at its disposal, being one of a few NATO users of this system, alongside Poland.

Currently, Estonia is driven towards the reinforcement of its air defence assets, being one of the key components in the structure of the Armed Forces. SHORAD/MRAD acquisition is also being planned, similar to the Polish Narew system. NASAMS has been listed as one of the plausible candidates. It is rather certain, however, that the procurement process would follow a competitive formula. A joint purchase with Latvia is the most probable path Estonia would follow.

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