The information that Defence24.pl has unofficially found out, suggests that the agreement on the delivery of the Piorun MANPADS to Estonia would be signed next week, between the 5th and the 9th of September. The contract would concern several hundred missiles, along with several launch mechanisms.
Thanks to the implementation of the said agreement, Estonia would become the third foreign user of the Polish Piorun MANPADS. Estonia would be the second user of the Polish MANPADS among the Baltic States. Lithuania has been leading the way here, as back in 2014 Vilnius made a major procurement of the legacy Grom MANPADS. 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). Systems as such, before Russia openly attacked Ukraine, had also been procured by the United States.
A certain quantity of Piorun system sets has also been provided to Ukraine, within the framework of the military aid package. The missiles have been successfully used in combat, and they were involved in the downing of Ka-52 or Mi-24 attack helicopters, Su-25 and Su-34 combat aircraft, and Orlan-10 UAVs - difficult to detect, and also posing a significant threat to the Ukrainian forces, as they act as an asset that directs the Russian artillery fire.
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.
Piorun is a Polish MANPADS developed based on the legacy Grom system. The weapon has been brought to life by a consortium, consisting of Mesko S.A., CRW Telesystem-Mesko, and the Military University of Technology. Piorun can neutralize threats at a distance from 400 meters to 6.5 kilometers, flying at altitudes ranging from 10 meters to 4 kilometers. The missile’s average velocity is 560 meters per second. It can be shoulder-launched, or be integrated on Pilica/Poprad anti-aircraft systems. Recently, the Piorun+ programme has been launched, aimed at upgrading the missile.
Piorun 2, also referred to as Grzmot (Thunder), is a related undertaking. This, in the longer run, would be a replacement of Piorun, not based on changes in the current product, but employing different engineering altogether. It would offer a much greater range, and it would be designed to protect mobile land units. It cannot be ruled out that at some point in time, the Piorun+ and Piorun 2/Grzmot programmes would undergo a fusion.