The National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) learned about the activities of the Estonian Defence Industry Association, and decided that the precondition for the companies to keep pace with global competition was updating the legislation on the handling of military weapons.
In the opinion of the Chairman of the Committee Hannes Hanso, defence industry is a rapidly developing sector that needs strong attention from the state and the public. “We already have outstanding and successful companies with world class competence that have to break through to the great markets of Europe and America as well as Asia and Middle East,” Hanso said.
According to Hanso, the cooperation of research institutions, the state and the companies is the key to the success of defence industry. “In such a small country as Estonia, the defence industry companies cannot survive without exporting, thus the key word is export,” Hanso said.
Hanso also said that legislation should not stand in the way of the development of business; therefore the legislation on the handling of military weapons should be updated in order to guarantee the conditions necessary for staying in global competition to companies.
The Committee was told that as the internal market for defence industry was very small, in addition to high-quality and effective product development, export was also very important. Besides that, the focus is on attracting investments to Estonia. Future ambition is to reach the situation where the defence industry companies residing in Estonia would create new value, for example, in the cyber defence sector. The Estonian defence industry needs the political support of the state to break down the export barriers, because all countries generally prefer the products of their own defence industry.
The members of the Committee expressed interest in the activities of the defence industry companies. The Committee was told about the producers of unique products in the Estonian defence industry. Companies ELI and Threod Systems have sold unmanned aerial vehicles to more than 30 countries. The whole eastern border of Estonia is covered by the border guard systems produced in Defendec. The mobile modular hospitals produced in cooperation by companies Maru and Semetron can be assembled in 60 minutes.
Electronic jammers are a new trend in defence industry; they are made by Rantelon. Cybernetica produces sea surveillance systems and communication systems. Samelin and Galvi Linda make personal equipment and boots. Englo produces blasting machines and mine detectors, Milrem makes unmanned tracked vehicles. Guardtime operates in the field of cyber security, and has expanded to the US market.
The National Defence Committee plans to continue with this issue, and also visit several of those companies.
The National Defence Committee was given an overview of the activities of the Estonian Defence Industry Association by CEO of the Association Ingvar Pärnamäe.